Dunkin and Lily by Donna Gephart

Published by Delacorte Press 

Summary:  Norbert is new to south Florida, living with his mother and grandmother and attempting to recover from what happened to his father, while trying to manage his own bipolar disorder.  Tim has lived in town with his parents and sister all his life, but is fighting his own battle, trying to get up the courage to start eighth grade as a girl named Lily.  Their paths cross before the first day of school, when Tim gives Norbert a new nickname, Dunkin.  Each of them wants to become friends, but their secrets get in the way.  When eighth grade starts, Norbert is unexpectedly recruited for the basketball team and starts spending his time with the same group of guys that regularly torture Tim.  As the year moves on, each of them slowly comes to terms with what is going on in their lives until both Dunkin and Lily are brave enough to show the world who they really are.  362 pages; grades 6-8.

Pros:  Told in alternating first-person narratives, Dunkin and Lily explores the inner lives of kids dealing with heartbreakingly difficult, and potentially dangerous (particularly in middle school) issues.  The courage each of them shows is for the most part realistic, and the supporting players of friends and family members in their lives are sympathetically portrayed.

Cons:  One can only hope that there are a few more vigilant and courageous teachers than there seem to be at Dunkin and Lily’s middle school.

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