- Let’s Pretend We Never Met by Melissa Walker
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-256716-1 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-256719-2 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4–7
When Mattie moves to Pennsylvania over winter break, she is happy to meet Agnes, who seems to instantly understand her. Once she gets to school, however, she realizes that the quirks that she has noticed about Agnes, especially her way of freezing up and staring off into space, have marked her as an outcast with the other sixth-graders and thus, for Mattie, a social liability whose friendship she can’t afford to acknowledge openly. Hints from the adults aren’t helpful in understanding Agnes’ problem; they act as Agnes’ protectors and advocates but don’t explain anything. It’s not until Maggie has really hurt Agnes that she realizes that she doesn’t need to understand what’s wrong; she just needs to be kind and enjoy Agnes for who she is. This is a gentle look at the challenges of both fitting in to a new situation and having a friend with special needs. While it’s somewhat frustrating that the book is vague regarding Alice’s differences, the everyday details of Mattie’s life at home and at school create an involving narrative that shows how social guilt can intrude and niggle away at one’s joy even when other things are going well. Mattie’s adults are patient and wise, however, and her new friends demonstrate a refreshing willingness to be genuinely inclusive.