Courage for Beginners

Mysti Murphy is astonishingly well-adjusted for a seventh-grader who's not only dealing with an agoraphobic mother, but also a best friend who's running a social experiment that includes not talking to her in school. That changes after her father has an accident, upsetting the delicate balance of life in the Murphy household. Though she likes to picture herself as a character in a book, Mysti now needs to step into the real world to develop new skills in order to get through the next few months.

As with Sure Signs of Crazy, Harrington's characters are genuine and Mysti's voice is funny and believable. The author's ability to write about how mental health problems affect entire families is unparalleled for this age group. Though the story is upsetting at times, it will engage readers from the start, especially those who have gone through the challenge of trying to keep their home life private. --Stephanie Anderson, head of readers' advisory at the Darien Library and blogger

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