Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Happy Book Birthday, A Perfect Mistake by Melanie Conklin!


by Melanie Conklin
Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Middle Grade Mystery
272 pages
ages 8 to 12

A moving, voice-driven novel about friendship, responsibility, and fighting against unfair expectations, for fans of Rebecca Stead and Erin Entrada Kelly.
Max wishes he could go back in time to before he was diagnosed with ADHD, before he grew to be the tallest kid in his class, and before he and his best friends went into the woods in the middle of the night. Max doesn’t remember what happened after he left his friends Will and Joey and the older kids who took them there. He’s not sure if he wants to remember. Knowing isn’t going to make Joey talk to him again, or bring Will out of his coma.
When the local authorities run out of leads, Max realizes that without his help, they may never know what really happened to Will. Charged by the idea that he may be the key to uncovering the truth, Max pairs up with classmate and aspiring journalist Sam to investigate what really happened that night. But not everyone in the community wants that night to be remembered.


With a character to want as a best friend, this book dives into relatable problems while weaving an intriguing mystery along the way.

Max was hoping to have a good year at school, since he's learning to handle his ADHD a little better, but he doesn't expect a sudden growth spurt to leave him soaring above his classmates, and definitely wasn't prepared for his small group of friends to fall apart. He has no idea how to digest or handle the fact that his best friend is now lying in the hospital in coma, and even though he knows it isn't true, feels it's somewhat his fault. His other best friend, Joey, refuses to talk to him after the accident and is acting strange. Then, Max's uncle temporarily moves in with his family, and it's all nearing too much. So, when the police can't seem to figure out what really happened to his best friend, Max decides it's time to take matters into his own hands, and this leads in directions he would have never expected.

Max is such a wonderful character and is hard not to like. He struggles with ADHD, accepts that, and is doing what he can (with help) to make life easier. It was refreshing to have a character like this. He still comes across as a normal kid, who's simply dealing with everything the best he can. And, as is with middle school, he's also handling other insecurities and even a touch of bullying. Despite all of this, his attitude steers in a slightly more positive direction and doesn't bog down. 

Family issues and friendship problems also come into play, creating quite a bit for Max to face. His uncle is immediately approached with a sense of hesitancy, letting the reader feel that something is quite right before the problem becomes apparent. Not only does this also help add a pinch of tension, but Max's family circumstances have time to develop and gain depth, letting the reader sink into the situation. It's the same when it comes to Max's relationships to the other students. Everything is approached with a little care and not laid out immediately, letting each situation and relationship grow.

The mystery dribbles in slowly, too, giving peeks and glimpses at what happened the day of the 'accident'. This happens through little flashbacks. By the time things pick up and Max decides to get actively involved, the background is already laid out. The pacing remains steady the whole way through as Max is constantly dealing with something. The mystery also adds surprises and takes an interesting turn at the end. On a side note, I never figured out exactly how the title fits into all of this, but that could just be me overseeing something. 

This isn't going to be a read for all middle graders, but there will be those who enjoy it quite a bit.

And here she is...

Melanie Conklin is the author of Counting Thyme and Every Missing Piece. Melanie grew up in North Carolina and worked as a product designer before she began her writing career. When she's not writing, Melanie spends her time doodling and dreaming up new ways to be creative. She lives in New Jersey with her family.

1 comment:

Natalie Aguirre said...

From reading your review, I think I'd really like this book. Hopefully, I can get to it this summer.