Review of Growing Pangs

Growing Pangs Growing Pangs
by Kathryn Ormsbee; illus. by Molly Brooks; color by Bex Glendining and Elise Schuenke
Intermediate    Random    256 pp.   g
5/22    978-0-593-30128-9    $20.99
Library ed.  978-0-593-30129-6    $23.99
Paper ed.  978-0-593-30131-9    $12.99
e-book ed.  978-0-593-30130-2    $8.99

Rising sixth graders Katie and Kacey, both homeschooled during the year, head to summer camp. Though Katie loves being with her best friend, she frets about feeling homesick. She’s also self-conscious about being “different,” with her red hair, freckles, and crooked teeth. At camp, she makes a confident new friend who “cusses” (“Backstreet Boys suck”), and Kacey seethes with jealousy and drifts away. Back home, Katie begins engaging in compulsive behaviors in an effort to “pus­­h the buzzing thoughts [depicted as a bee that won’t leave her alone] away.” Katie’s father, who eventually guides her to a professional, helps her understand that “our thoughts aren’t us. They’re just our thoughts.” This sensitive, deeply felt graphic novel, divided into four seasons of the year, is one that will resonate with many readers, particularly those living with OCD. The story also captures in detail a realistic homeschooling experience, including stereotypes about it: “I didn’t feel like the weirdo homeschooled kid when Kacey and I hung out.” Katie ultimately finds joy in theater, undergoes a scary lingual frenectomy, and learns that “maybe I could have best friends and good friends. I didn’t have to choose.” Best of all, she learns that many people are hounded by worries, with Brooks depicting various creatures nagging others as Katie’s bee nags her. Both author and illustrator share their own childhood OCD experiences in appended notes, with Ormsbee explaining that the story is a fictionalized version of her own youth.

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

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