Zinny is a seventh grader whose life begins to fall apart when her brother Gabriel is in an accident at college. Gabriel is diagnosed bipolar and is sent to a residential treatment facility and the family struggles to keep it together. Zinny and her siblings are directed by their parents to not tell anyone about Gabriel’s hospitalization and struggles. Zinny’s friendships suffer because of secret keeping.
This story is so important for middle grade students because it deals with the stigma associated with mental illness and how difficult it is for families to cope. Our students need to be informed about these issues to gain empathy and understanding. I think Barbara Dee did an amazing job humanizing both Zinny and Gabriel and portraying their family’s predicament. I look forward to getting feedback from my students on this one.