- Home Games by Benjamin Markovits
Markovits, Benjamin Home Games. Harper, 2020 [336p] Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-274230-8 $16.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-274231-5 $7.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4-7
Ben Michaels' workaholic father has been offered a job in London, and his mother refuses to go, leaving the twelve-year-old feeling powerless amid the adult decision making. Mom moves him from New York to her mother's home in Texas, where he first tries to convince himself that his parents will eventually reconnect, or at the very least he will have some options if or when they divorce. Instead, the year ends up an extended, friendless limbo: Dad seldom calls and cancels plans to visit; Mom takes a job in his middle school and dates his social studies teacher; Granma spars with Mom; and the girl next door, who looks like true friend material, turns out to be uniformly nice to everybody rather than Ben in particular. Probably worst of all, however, is Ben's realization that part of his misery is of his own making—he has been drifting along with his parents' and his only buddy's plans all his life, and now he has to strategize to make his voice and wishes heard. Markovits' novel never devolves into the pity party this plot outline suggests; Ben's growing self-awareness emerges amid spot on and often quite funny observations of parental bumbling and middle-grade folkways. His final decision on where to make a stable home may throw many readers for a loop, but readers will appreciate his growing realism about the complicated dynamics of families.