If you’d like to get inside the head and the life of an unusual girl who’s just turned eleven, meet Maggie. This very smart but sheltered, funny but determined perfectionist, who intends to become President of the United States, is writing her memoir because, obviously, the memoir will be published after she is President. For the moment, however, competing for Maggie’s attention are her cool dude dad whose legs have “fallen asleep” so he can’t work anymore, her now-working mom who has begun acting mysteriously, and her older sisters against whom Maggie is trying to sustain her resistance—though it’s getting harder all the time. Then there’s school, a significant science project, and, maybe, a boy. What is The Meaning of Maggie?
It’s a while before Maggie, the youngest child in the family, catches on that something serious is happening; even then she has trouble getting a handle on it, try as she may—and things keep changing. As in the real-life childhood of author Megan Jean Sovern and many people dealing with a progressive disease in the family, Dad’s multiple sclerosis is dealt with sometimes openly, sometimes covertly; sometimes with humor, sometimes with panic; and sometimes as just a part of daily life.
If you like Maggie, you might also appreciate Willow Chance, another gifted girl who has to grapple with loss and drastic change in Counting by 7s, by Holly Sloan. For another story of a tween dealing with difficult circumstances, you might try Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere; it does have a faster pace, as the problem of the novel is Hurricane Katrina’s ravaging of New Orleans and the resultant experience of being . . . Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere.