A heartfelt and funny story about a shy eleven-year-old who learns to manage her anxiety through improv classes—and discovers her activist voice. From Margaret Dilloway, author of Summer of a Thousand Pies, and perfect for fans of Sharon Draper, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, and Holly Goldberg Sloan.
Eleven-year-old Ava Andrews has a Technicolor interior with a gray shell. On the inside, she bubbles with ideas and plans. On the outside, everyone except her best friend, Zelia, thinks she doesn’t talk or, worse, is stuck-up. What nobody knows is that Ava has invisible disabilities: anxiety and a heart condition.
Ava hopes middle school will be a fresh start, but when Zelia moves across the country and Ava’s Nana Linda pushes her to speak up about social issues, she withdraws further. So Ava is shocked when her writing abilities impress her classmates and they invite her to join their improv group, making up stories onstage. Determined to prove she can control her anxiety, she joins—and discovers a whole new side of herself, and what it means to be on a team.
But as Ava’s self-confidence blossoms, her relationship with Zelia strains, and she learns that it isn’t enough just to raise your voice—it’s how and why you use it that matters.
About the Author
Margaret Dilloway is the author of Summer of a Thousand Pies and six other books for children and adults. She lives with her family in San Diego, where she performs long-form improv on three teams and writes and produces sketch shows. Margaret can be found online at www.margaretdilloway.com.
“Successfully explores the complexities of chronic illness mixed with mental illness … a heartwarming story about a community discovering activism.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Alongside a sensitive portrayal of Ava’s invisible disabilities, well-wrought subplots, such as problems with an unkind classmate and the growing distance between two once-close friends, support the journey of Dilloway’s thoughtful protagonist from timid observer to well-liked social activist.” — Publishers Weekly
“An excellent selection for book clubs for children, read-together picks, and for anyone who enjoys a good underdog story.” — ALA Booklist
“Dilloway covers a lot of ground including social justice, mental health, physical ability, and prejudice, but all the while the narrative is hopeful and encouraging.... Ideal for book clubs and discussions.” — School Library Journal