Review of Looking for True

Looking for TrueLooking for True
by Tricia Springstubb
Intermediate    Ferguson/Holiday    288 pp.    g
11/22    978-0-8234-5099-2    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-0-8234-5401-3    $11.99

This is a neatly constructed story of two parallel characters. Gladys is a small, bright, intense eleven-year-old with a sensitive nature and quirky clothing sense. Her mom runs an in-home daycare. Jude, also eleven, is big for his age, the son of a single mother and the frequent caregiver for his little brother. Their stories are told in alternating chapters (in different typefaces) and come together when each encounters True, a neglected dog in the neighborhood. True’s rescue forms the core of the action. Springstubb (The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe, rev. 9/21) does a masterly job of creating two distinct voices and sustaining our interest in the two main characters equally. A supporting cast of flawed adults and hilarious preschoolers rounds out the picture. The setting—a town formerly prosperous but now on the skids, where folks are just scraping by, with subtle reference to the opioid crisis and the collapse of the manufacturing economy—is one that is underrepresented in contemporary middle-grade fiction, and it mitigates against the potential soppiness of a dog-rescue story. The writing is fresh, sharp, and authentic: “This could be trouble, said his brain. Open the door , said whatever the opposite of a brain was.” It’s Because of Winn-Dixie (rev. 7/00) for a new generation.

From the November/December 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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