Review of A Perfect Mistake

A Perfect Mistake A Perfect Mistake
by Melanie Conklin
Intermediate    Little, Brown    288 pp.   g
7/22    978-0-316-66858-3    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-316-66860-6    $9.99

Max is not in a good place at the beginning of sixth grade: his ADHD makes school a challenge; a recent growth spurt causes people to think he’s an adult instead of an eleven-year-old; and—thanks to an incident no one wants to talk about—one of his friends is in a coma, and the others are avoiding him. Max worries that he’s to blame for the injury that landed Will in the hospital, but as he starts to remember more about that night in the woods, he realizes someone is covering up the truth. With the help of his new friend Samantha, an aspiring journalist, Max follows clues to figure out what really happened. Max’s life is also upended by a visit from his uncle Cal, a woodworker who lives out of his van. The two bond as Max helps Cal build a display case for Samantha’s family’s bakery, and Max gradually realizes that he might not be the only family member with ADHD—and that his neurotypical sister and parents aren’t as perfect as they seem. The mystery is pitched just right for a middle-grade audience, with high stakes and plausible developments. The plot is well paced, with a good balance between chasing down clues and moments of introspection. Max’s ADHD is a constant presence, but one that doesn’t overwhelm the story, and the book’s many flawed but well-meaning adults add depth to the tween-driven action.

From the July/August 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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