Encyclopedia of Me
by Rivers, Karen

As Tink Aaron-Martin writes an encyclopedia of her life, she also tells the story of the summer leading into her eighth-grade year.

Karen Rivers writes rich and funny novels for middle-grade readers, young adults, and the occasional grown-up. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia, with her two children and a noxious-smelling dog. Visit her online at http://www.karenrivers.com and @karenrivers.

While grounded over the summer, 13-year-old Tink writes an encyclopedia of her life. It includes her parents, her older twin brothers (including one with autism), and her best friend/occasional competitor Freddie Blue. To Tink, her best friend is far more exciting and prettier than she'll ever be, and that's a concern because Tink hopes to snag the heart of a certain skateboarding boy next door. The A-Z encyclopedia framework (complete with footnotes!) gets an A for effort, even if it slows down the plot a bit. Tink is a charming, smart, and honest young protagonist, and this makes for a heartfelt, light, but not-quite-breezy read. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Cleverly woven through the titular encyclopedia-with entries as seemingly mundane as "Apple" and "Oxen"-is the touchingly real and often humorous story of a preteen's struggles with family, friendship and first love. Isadora "Tink" Aaron-Martin, nearly 13, means to make the most of her recent grounding by using her time on house arrest to write an encyclopedia, heavily annotated with footnotes. Frustrated by her reputation as the peacemaker, Tink's entries about life with an autistic brother are fresh and painfully honest. Rivers doesn't tiptoe around the destructive impact the syndrome can have on a family. Rather, through Tink, she explores what it's like to grow up in a house where everyone is constantly walking on eggshells, waiting for the next violent outburst. But family isn't the only place where Tink feels invisible. She also walks in the shadow of her "best friend," Freddie Blue Anderson, who seems to care more about being "pops" (popular) than about Tink. It isn't until a blue-haired skateboarder named Kai moves in next door that she gradually finds the strength to put herself first, both at home and at school. Though the footnotes feel gimmicky and distracting, readers will likely be able to look past them (or just skip over them) and cheer for Tink as she comes into her own. (Fiction. 12-14) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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