- Reviewed by
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-3525-3 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-3527-7 $10.99 R Gr. 5-7
Twelve-year-old Nora has been dying to ride the old Cyclone rollercoaster at Coney Island with her cousin Riley, but tragedy strikes when Riley collapses after getting off the coaster. She’s had a stroke, a result of an undetected heart problem, and now Nora and her family are spending most of their time at the hospital following Riley’s slow and uncertain progress. Nora tries to be Riley’s staunch support, but she’s frightened of two things: Riley’s injured state, and the fact that Riley only rode the coaster because Nora blackmailed her into it. While the medical details (frequently footnoted with explanation) give the story an air of case study, Nora’s narration is real and heartfelt as she negotiates her worry, her guilt, and her family’s sometimes challenging dynamic; it’s believable that the adults aren’t always cool under pressure either, and it’s gratifying that Riley, even in recovery, gets to be a significant character and not just a catalyst (her language-impaired variant of the f-bomb is frequent and sincere). Cronin writes with laudatory accessibility of an unavoidably tough experience; Nora’s and Riley’s sketches add visual appeal as well as featuring in Riley’s recovery.