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How do you give a eulogy when you can't think of one good thing to say? A poignant, funny, and candid look at grief, family secrets, difficult people, and learning to look behind the facade.As if being...
How do you give a eulogy when you can't think of one good thing to say? A poignant, funny, and candid look at grief, family secrets, difficult people, and learning to look behind the facade.As if being...
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  • How do you give a eulogy when you can't think of one good thing to say? A poignant, funny, and candid look at grief, family secrets, difficult people, and learning to look behind the facade.

    As if being stuffed into last year's dress pants at his cousin's wake weren't uncomfortable enough, thirteen-year-old Jimmy has just learned from his mother that he has to say a few words at the funeral the next day. Why him? What could he possibly say about his cousin, who ruined everything they did? He can't recall one birthday party, family gathering, or school event with Patrick that didn't result in injury or destruction. As Jimmy attempts to navigate the odd social norms of the wake, he draws on humor, heartfelt concern, and a good deal of angst while racking his brain and his memory for a decent and meaningful memory to share. But it's not until faced with a microphone that the realization finally hits him: it's not the words that are spoken that matter the most, but those that are truly heard.

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  • Kirkus

    Even at his cousin's wake, Jimmy maintains his snarky persona that so irritates his parents and others around him. It is the day before the wake when Jimmy's parents tell him that he must give a short eulogy for his 13-year-old cousin, Patrick. Immediately, Jimmy resists, as he can't imagine any positive remarks he can make about Patrick, as Patrick had done nothing but ruin many pivotal moments in Jimmy's life. "Patrick was the kind of guy who would kick your dog," Jimmy explains to readers. "And not to see what the dog would do but what you would do." Leading up to the time of the funeral, Jimmy reflects on different past experiences, times when Patrick always seemed to ruin every occasion. As the family gets closer to the actual funeral, these reflections help Jimmy to gain a more objective perspective of how troubled Patrick really was--not necessarily the intentionally destructive person Jimmy had painted Patrick to be. As Jimmy processes his memories, readers get an ever clearer understanding of a mentally ill child who desperately needs help but doesn't get it. Schmitt simultaneously paints a realistic picture of a close but flawed family who must navigate the sudden death of a young family member and all the feelings that come with it. The book adheres to the white default.A complicated, hard, and heartfelt look at a child's mental illness. (Fiction. 10-14)

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. (Online Review)

  • Booklist

    November 1, 2018
    Grades 5-8 Honesty isn't always pretty, but it courses through Schmitt's debut in more ways than one. Jimmy, 13, is already uncomfortable at his cousin Patrick's wake, but that distress escalates to panic when Jimmy's mother informs him that he has to speak at tomorrow's funeral. As he stands in the funeral home, he racks his brain for a nice memory of Patrick?the cousin he hated?to use for his eulogy. The narrative dips in and out of the wake to follow Jimmy's memories of his 13-year-old cousin, none of which is appropriate for a speech. The temperamental boy ruined every toy or occasion he touched, but Schmitt drops clues that place Patrick on the autism spectrum, sadly undiagnosed and untreated. Complex family relationships surface with humor and candor, with adults painted as flawed and prone to delivering sharp words or even a smack. All these elements combine to make the reader as uneasy as Jimmy, who, through his recollections, gains a better understanding of the boy lying in the coffin and, ultimately, of himself.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2018, American Library Association.)

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    Candlewick Press
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