January/February 2023 Kids Indie Next List
“It’s 1987, and Iris’ dad is dying from AIDS. Her grief is devastating enough, but it’s even harder when the world is ignorant about AIDS. This poignant historical novel moved me to tears! This is a book that kids and adults will appreciate.”
— Andrew King, Secret Garden Bookshop, Seattle, WA
A girl channels her grief and pain into love and activism in this heartbreaking, heart-mending novel of family, friendship, and community.
Iris tries to act normal at school, going through the motions and joking around with her friends. But nothing is normal, and sometimes it feels like she’ll never laugh again. How can she, when her dad is dying of a virus that’s off-limits to talk about? When she knows that soon all she’ll have left of her kind, loving dad are memories, photos, and a binder full of the poems they used to exchange?
In a sea of rage and grief, Iris resolves to speak out against the rampant fear, misinformation, and prejudice surrounding AIDS—and find the pieces of Dad that she never knew before. Along the way, Iris might just find new sides to herself.
Award-winning author Ami Polonsky has crafted a lyrical, tender, earth-shattering novel that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.
About the Author
Ami Polonsky is a middle school English teacher, parent to two children, and author, among other things. Her critically acclaimed novels for young readers include Gracefully Grayson, Threads, and Spin with Me. Ami lives outside of Chicago with her family. She invites you to visit her online at amipolonsky.com.
* “The book shows a girl focusing her rage and pain into love… Simultaneously sad and life affirming; a poetry-filled, inspiring call to activism.”—Kirkus, Starred Review
* "Foregrounding believable, dynamic characters [this novel shows] both the cost of inaction and fear around the HIV/AIDS crisis, and the power of activism to bring change and build community."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
* “This is the best kind of family story, filled with love and, yes, loss, but most importantly with caring. The narrative is lyrical and heartfelt, and young people will be inspired to see Iris transcend her grief, use her voice, and find a way to make a difference.” –The Horn Book, starred review
* “Ami Polonsky has crafted a beautiful story which speaks of courage, family, love, anger, discrimination, ignorance, and hope. …Polonsky has delivered a powerful message to us all that should not be passed up.”—School Library Connection, starred review
* “Beautifully written … with its sensitive portrayal of loss, and its carefully researched depiction of a devastating time in American history, this lyrical novel is highly recommended.” —School Library Journal, starred review
“Impeccably written and emotionally powerful.”—BCCB
“A valuable education in AIDS history and emotional wellness.”—Booklist