Melleby, Nicole

The Science of Being Angry

(2) 4-6 Joey, eleven, is one of a set of triplets in a blended family with two moms, and she's hardly ever thought about the sperm donor whose genes she has inherited. But her own difficulty with anger management has gotten worse lately, to the point that her behavior gets her family evicted from their apartment. They're all crammed into a motel room, except her beloved older half-brother, who disappoints the others by moving in with his dad. As the situation boils over, Joey wonders, with some inspiration from a school genetics project, if her impulses might be inherited from her biological father and seeks out information on him. Further complicating things is her crush on the female classmate (a longtime friend) who is helping with her DNA research and Joey's insecurity-fueled ineptitude at handling the friendship. Melleby (How to Become a Planet, rev. 7/21) excels at exploring aspects of queer life within a layered story. Joey's family situation is believably bumpy, for reasons both related and unrelated to its configuration (her mothers disagree about how to manage Joey's outbursts; Joey worries, unfoundedly, that her nonbiological mom could give up on her). An affecting portrayal of a preteen who has even more to figure out than most about why she is the way she is; how to handle herself; and where she fits in the world.


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