The Benefits of Being an Octopus
by Ann Braden
* * * * Stars (Great!)
Zoey is in 7th grade and she tries to keep a low profile because other kids have opinions about her that she can’t do anything about. She’s poor, she’s moved around a lot (when her family wasn’t living out of her mom’s car), sometimes she doesn’t have enough to eat or clean clothes to wear, she’s got 3 younger siblings she has to take care of, and her mom’s boyfriends aren’t always very nice. In fact, after listening in on some of the “private” conversations between Lenny and her mom, Zoey is sure Lenny is bad news. But what can she do to change any of it? After a teacher at school tricks her into joining the debate team, Zoey finds some self confidence and inner strength she didn’t know she had, and she’s determined to share her insights with her mom and find a way out of their toxic and potentially dangerous situation. A tough, realistic read about climbing out of ignorance and fear, and overcoming seemingly impossible obstacles. Readers will be rooting for Zoey, her family, and the friends she supports with her new-found strength.
Reviewed by YA Librarian