Fifty-Four Things Wrong with Gwendolyn Rogers
by Caela Carter
Tween (grades 4-8)
* * * * Stars (Great!)
Gwendolyn Rogers is a neurodivergent 5th grader who, after hoping for a specific diagnosis that would allow her to receive some assistance in school and some understanding from her community only learns that there are 54 things wrong with her that don’t add up to anything. She obsesses over the list of things (which she extrapolated from the test report that her mom received), feeling sad and overwhelmed. While she and her mom try to find strategies to help her cope, things get worse and worse at school where some of Gwendolyn’s teachers just make things more difficult for her. Her mother finally swallows her pride and asks for some help from her ex-boyfriend’s ex-wife (whose son, Gwendolyn’s half-brother, attends the same elementary school), who gets them an appointment with Dr. Nessa, who is willing to go the extra mile for Gwendolyn. Although there are some missteps in Gwendolyn’s treatment/progress, having someone to advocate for her, who allows her to explain and express her feelings and concerns, is priceless. Gwendolyn begins to find ways to deal with the frustration and anger that derail all of her good intentions. Gwendolyn’s story offers some really interesting insights into what life is like (inner and outer) for someone whose brain works differently from what’s considered normal by society. Kids and adults may find this informative and eye-opening.
Reviewed by YA Librarian