Published by Crown Books for Young Readers
Summary: Isaiah, his mother, and 4-year-old sister are living in what he has dubbed the Smoky Inn, a run-down motel that they’ve moved to after losing their apartment. Ever since Isaiah’s dad died suddenly from a heart attack, his mother has been spiraling: drinking more, not working, and often neglecting her children. Isaiah tries to help out by starting a candy-selling business with his friend Sneaky and getting a job at a barbershop. But when the family is evicted from the hotel and ends up sleeping in their car, Isaiah begins to realize he has a problem that’s too big for him to solve. Fortunately, he has some caring adults in his life, a talent for writing, and his dad’s notebooks full of stories about superhero Isaiah Dunn. His mom is smart enough to finally seek help, and the end sees the family reunited at a surprise event Isaiah has planned to honor his dad. 208 pages; grades 3-6.
Pros: Based on an award-winning story that was included in Flying Lessons and Other Stories, this book would make an excellent choice for an elementary book club, due to its relatively short length and 10-year-old protagonist with a humorous take on his difficult circumstances. He really does turn out to be a hero and is instrumental in keeping his family together during a pretty dark time for all of them.
Cons: Isaiah’s frenemy Angel seems like she has an interesting story to tell, and I wanted to know more about her. Maybe a sequel?