The Other, Better Me by Antony John
From the critically acclaimed author of Mascot comes this heartfelt novel, perfect for fans of John David Anderson and Cammie McGovern, about a girl searching for the meaning of family.
Lola and Momma have always been a team of two. It hasn’t always been easy for Lola, being one of the only kids she knows with just one parent around. And lately she’s been feeling incomplete, like there’s a part of herself that she can’t know until she knows her dad.
But what will happen—to Lola, to Momma, to their team of two—if she finds him?
Thanks to a power outage, I was able to get to this book quicker than I thought I would. It’s a short read at only 261 pages. I will say that reading by flashlight isn’t fun at all.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this, but once I got a few chapters in, I knew I would like it. The book covers several important topics: single parent, not knowing a parent/parental abandonment, rich vs poor, illness, death, and bullying. That sounds like a lot for such a short book, but things were done well.
Lola is 10 years old and lives with her mom in a mobile home owned by the woman across the street. Lola’s mom works at a restaurant and often times works long hours. She’s been getting tired a lot easier now, so Lola is partially taking care of herself. She does go across the street after school so she’s not alone. Lola is a sweet kid. She rides the bus to school with her two friends, Nick and Kiana. There is a bully, Mallory, on the bus who picks on everyone. While riding the bus, Lola reads to 5 year old Tiffany.
Lola’s teacher has them writing papers often. For their next assignment, she has to write about “the other me”. Things that you would want to be and things you would want to do. Lola sees others writing about their parents on one assignment and realizes that she doesn’t know enough. Her dad was deported before she was born and he stopped calling when she was three. Lola knows what characteristics come from her mom, but she wonders about what she gets from the father she can’t remember. With the help of Kiana, whose dad is a detective, Lola decides to try to find and contact her dad. What she doesn’t know is that things don’t always work out the way you want.
I truly enjoyed all the characters in this book. Even Mallory because we find out why she acts the way she does. I think this will be a great book for middle school readers (and readers of all ages). While there are heavy topics, it’s also a sweet book about family and friendship. Those two things can often times cross over, and I love found family since I have one, too.
Thank you to HarperCollins and Wunderkind PR for sending me a finished copy for review. I gave this book 4 stars. One more thing, that cover fits the book perfectly, so well done to the designer. I wasn’t sure at first, but everything on there is perfect.
Does this seem like the type of book you would enjoy? Do you have any middle school family members, students, etc that might benefit from reading a book like this one? Have you read it yet?