From School Library Journal
Grade 5-7–"In some ways, I'd grown up with five parents," the title character says, referring to her father and his "four big goofy" longtime friends, who have helped to raise her since her mother decamped and then died. In this engaging first-person narrative, 11-year-old Amalee relates the details of her life, from peer issues and teacher problems at school to her father's sudden illness. With him in bed and seriously sick, the four friends take turns caring for both father and daughter, and in the process each one of them realizes his or her potential. Although the end is weighted by a lengthy hypnosis scene in which therapist friend Joyce helps Amalee and her father express their deepest feelings, readers will be cheering for this likable protagonist.–Susan Patron, Los Angeles Public Library
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Gr. 5-8. "In some ways, I'd grown up with five parents," says 11-year-old Amalee, who spends every Friday evening with her single dad and his four "big, goofy friends" from college. Amalee has struggled to navigate a middle-school social scene that is dominated by mean girls, and when her father contracts a life-threatening illness, she finds her insecurities ballooning out of control. It's her father's family of friends who hold everything together and help Amalee discover her own strength, forgive the imperfections in herself and her family, and form genuine friendships. Williams, best known as a singer and songwriter, writes a poignant, funny debut filled with wholly endearing characters. Amalee's appealing first-person voice sounds a bit too wise in places, but Williams writes about a preteen's emotional life with piercing honesty, particularly the paralyzing fear a parent's illness brings and the agony and guilt of mistakes. Readers will be charmed by Williams' eccentric, lovable characters and her sharp observations about the world of both middle-schoolers and adults. Gillian Engberg
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