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Review of Every Single Second

springstubb_every single secondEvery Single Second
by Tricia Springstubb; illus. by Diana Sudyka
Middle School    Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins    360 pp.
6/16    978-0-06-236628-3    $16.99    g
e-book ed.  978-0-06-236630-6    $9.99

Nella Sabatini’s life is largely centered on her tight-knit Italian American family, including her harried mother, her cemetery-groundskeeper father, her four unruly younger brothers, and her crotchety great-grandmother, Nonna. But things are changing around her: her school, St. Amphibalus, is closing due to high costs and low enrollment; college students and other Invaders (i.e., yuppies, professors, and people of color) are moving into the neighborhood; and the people Nella thought she knew best have deeply kept secrets. Nella’s friend, Clem, is obsessed with the idea of the upcoming “leap second,” and halfway through the book everything does change, tragically, in an instant. This terrible fulcrum of the novel is an event that upends families and brings to light issues of deep-seated racism, violence, post-traumatic stress, accountability, remorse, and regret. Springstubb adroitly weaves multiple story lines and themes throughout her nonlinear narrative, moving back and forth in time (“now”; “then”) and occasionally interrupting her omniscient third-person perspective with interstitial commentary from a mournful, stoic cemetery statue (“What the Statue of Jeptha A. Stone Would Say If It Could”). The result is a complex and rich tale, one that will have readers pondering, along with Nella, life’s big questions.

From the May/June 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Monica Edinger

Monica Edinger, a fourth-grade teacher at the Dalton School in New York City, blogs at Educating Alice and the Huffington Post. She is the author of Africa Is My Home: A Child of the Amistad (Candlewick), illustrated by Robert Byrd.

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