Published by Feiwel and Friends
Summary: Collin has never met his mother, but when he gets in a fight at school, his father is frustrated enough to send him away to live with her. Collin has a disorder that compels him to count up and say the number of letters in anything anyone says to him. This has resulted in bullying and misery for him that his dad doesn’t know how to deal with. When Collin moves in with his mother on the Ojibwe reservation in Minnesota, he slowly begins a journey of discovery about his past and who he is. He becomes close with Orenda, the girl next door, and is crushed to learn about her terminal illness. He discovers his own strength and spirituality as he falls in love with Orenda, learns about his late older brother, and comes to terms with his own disability. When his father reaches out to him a few months later, Collin is able to tell him that he has found happiness and peace in his new home. 320 pages; grades 5-8.
Pros: This beautifully-written debut novel explores the mysticism of the Ojibwe people while keeping the story firmly rooted in reality with a down-to-earth narrator who is reluctant to believe in magic. Filled with memorable characters, romance, and heartbreak, this will undoubtedly appeal to many middle school readers.
Cons: I’m not a fan of the Fault In Our Stars/Bridge to Terabithia ill-fated romance with the amazingly wise doomed teen (as I may have mentioned once or twice before…maybe even three times), so I didn’t love the Orenda storyline.