After the Worst Thing Happens

Holiday House/Margaret Ferguson Bks. May 2020. 224p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780823444908.
Gr 4-6–The worst thing that happens to 12-year old Army Morand is that her beloved pup Maybe dies as a result of something she did, and Army is not sure that she can ever get over her guilt and grief. Army’s family is very supportive, but when a destructive storm threatens their town, they are busy with their business that helps people prepare for, clean up, and recover from disasters and damages. Army becomes distracted from her own problems when she accidentally befriends the new neighbor whose autistic daughter, Madison, has a habit of wandering away from home, climbing trees, and sitting on rooftops while her mother is busy with twin babies. Several threads weave together as Army helps prepare for the storm, becomes friends with someone who reaches out to her, and tries to find a way to protect Madison from harm (as she wishes she had protected her dog). With a wonderful supporting cast and a quirky-yet-loving family (including a brother named Navy), a story that might have become maudlin or saccharine is instead exciting, relatable, and heartwarming, from its tragic start to its very happy ending.
VERDICT There is a lot packed into this story of friendship, loss, and family relationships, but it all gels into one bittersweet, uplifting tale of a young girl who finds strength that she didn’t know she had.

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