Milo Cruikshank may struggle with academics and the social intricacies of junior high school, but when it comes to keeping his nose down and his feelings at bay, he’s an expert. He’s already moved house five times in his life, which is why he now keeps most of his belongings permanently boxed in his closet, ready for the next relocation. Alan Silberberg’s novel begins with another new home and school for the awkward hero, only this time Milo doesn’t have the stability of a supportive family to help him through the transition: his mother recently died and his father and sister are just as lost in a “fog” as he is. Milo is constantly reminded of her passing, but, thankfully, life is also full of distractions, like new best friend and fellow Freezie-guzzler Marshall; a persistent girl-next-door fond of sticky notes; and, the object of Milo’s secret infatuation, the perfect (and perfectly-indifferent-towards-him) Summer. Milo’s ironic observations as the “geek” outsider are sure to make readers guffaw, especially when complemented by Silberberg’s cartoonish illustrations. Yet while the delivery is wry, the message is serious: slowly the school year progresses, and so does Milo, who is finally ready to look beyond the fog and retrieve his memories – painful and good – of his mother.
Andrea Belcham is the author of the forthcoming Food and Fellowship: Pro- jects and Recipes to Feed a Community (The Alternate Press/Life Media).