Thirteen-year-old Autumn Bird loves running, so when Connor Herlihy, an athletic, smart, and popular seventh grade boy, brags that he can beat anyone in a foot race but Autumn beats him, she quits the track team. Trading her shorts and sweats for high-rise jeans and heels and makeup, Autumn is welcomed into the popular crowd.

On her way to a weekend party, Autumn encounters Cody Stouffer crouched under a hedge near her home, hiding and in pain. A victim of both physical and emotional violence, Cody has run-away from one of the poorest neighborhoods where “people just like him crammed their whole lives—pots and pans, pets and poverty—into a few crumbling blocks” (14).

Relying on her Grandfather Teachings, Autumn decides to offer Cody assistance and gives him refuge in her father’s painting studio. Tom Bird, a renown artist in Toronto, Canada, soon discovers the hideaway, and the two tweens have some explaining to do.

As the story progresses, both Cody and Autumn learn important lessons about being true to themselves. From Autumn’s artistic father, Cody realizes that just as there is blue in brown, life is about adding layers and about making corrections along the way. Likewise, Autumn comes to an understanding about true friendship and group versus individual identity.

The Other Side of Perfect by Melanie Florence and Richard Scrimger not only teaches empathy but offers middle grade readers important insights about the dangers of narrow-minded thinking–whether about prosperity, poverty, ethnicity, popularity, or perfection. Told from alternating perspectives, the novel reveals how we are all more than the sum of our circumstances.

  • Posted by Donna

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