Happily for Now

Knopf. May 2021. 288p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780593179529.
Gr 3-5–While her mom is getting help for addiction, Fiona is sent to live with her great-aunt Alta’s family in Cold Hope. Her fairy godperson, community worker Miss Davis, always knows how to make her feel better. So Fiona becomes her apprentice, receiving emailed lessons every week. With a Pollyanna-esque optimism, Fiona tries to fix a family stuck in the past, a decades-old rivalry, and her relationship with her mom. But Fiona soon learns that helping people might have unwanted consequences. With new friends by her side and through the lessons, Fiona realizes that as much as she wants to help others, maybe those mixed feelings she’s been ignoring mean that it’s time to stop and speak her truth. Murphy’s illustrations enhance the storytelling, especially with their depictions of Great-Uncle Timothy’s artwork and of Fiona’s emotions. Although mostly lighthearted, the story contains important lessons, and an unresolved ending adds to the authentic depiction of life and relationships. However, the addiction component of the plot could benefit from more exploration. Fiona and her family are white, as are most of the cast, except for Ms. Davis and Fiona’s friend Julia, who have dark brown skin.
VERDICT Recommend to children who feel the need to fix things they cannot control; for realistic fiction collections and fans of Janice Erlbaum’s Let Me Fix That for You.

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