Arango, Andrea Beatriz

Iveliz Explains It All

(2) 4-6 "I'm tired of being that girl / who's different / who's special / who went through a 'hard time' / and basically messed up her home." Seventh grader Iveliz writes in her new journal about her goals: trying to stay out of trouble at school; making a new friend; and acclimating to living with her abuelita, Mimi, who, having been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, has moved from Puerto Rico to be with Iveliz's family. In spite of her efforts, Iveliz still struggles: her mom keeps getting called to the principal's office; a makeover date with a new friend turns complicated; and her idea to grow a garden with Mimi doesn't go as planned (gandules don't grow well in Maryland). She is not sure how to get her life under control, or whether Dr. Turnip and Dr. ­Carrot, her garden-vegetable "therapists," can actually help. Iveliz's voice is relatable and strong. Her spare journal entries are in English with a fair amount of Spanish naturally integrated into her musings to create an authentic depiction of a Puerto Rican family and a young girl's personal issues. This verse novel (with occasional interspersed art by Alyssa Bermudez) deals convincingly with grief, mental health, and middle-school bullies; twelve-year-old Iveliz's first-person account amplifies the need for finding one's voice and asking for help at any age. An author's note lists mental health resources for young people.


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