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Still a Work in Progress Hardcover – August 2, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 6–9-Noah, an average, unassuming middle schooler, is the kid his parents "don't have to worry about," as opposed to his older sister, Emma. At home, the family tiptoes around her eating disorder while going along with any and every food-related dictate Emma makes, in the hopes of avoiding a relapse. Noah navigates life with friends and classmates at his small school, but the "Thing They Don't Talk About" hangs over his head, particularly as he starts to suspect it might be happening again. When Emma does relapse, Noah attempts to go through the motions at home and at school, and he turns to his art as an emotional outlet for the pain and uncertainty in his life. Told from Noah's point of view, with fully developed main and supporting characters, the story believably and poignantly shows the effects of an eating disorder on those around the afflicted person. Noah's worry, anger, and guilt are palpable, and his desperation to understand why his sister struggles is often heartbreaking, as is his frustration with the way life goes on around him and his family. The interests of his friends and classmates begin to seem trivial, and readers will find his reactions honest and moving. VERDICT A realistic and sensitive depiction of a family in crisis and a young teen's emotional journey through it.-Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL
Feelings of guilt, grief, bewilderment, and anxiety pervade Noah's present-tense account. Through his eyes, Knowles offers a touching and realistic picture of the effect on those surrounding a person with an eating disorder. A poignant window and mirror into the lives of families affected by a health disorder.
Knowles (See You at Harry’s) sensitively explores the pain of having a sibling with an eating disorder, including the exhaustion caused by constant worry, the lack of attention for the healthy child, and the tension at every meal as the family tries to accommodate Emma’s dietary whims while closely monitoring how much she consumes...the relative lack of eating disorder stories told from a male point of view (especially for middle graders) makes this a welcome addition to the canon and a realistic look at how one person’s severe illness can adversely affect everyone around them.
With moments of genuine warmth and middle school humor, this is a less intense but equally heartfelt exploration of the effects of an eating disorder on a younger sibling than Vrettos’ Skin (BCCB 5/06). Readers will appreciate the honesty and accessibility of this tale about Noah’s desire to save the sister he loves but doesn’t understand.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Noah’s believable friends and their conflicts will draw in seventh-grade readers, especially boys...The novel is a great addition to a middle grade collection and will promote discussion in classes and homes.
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Top Customer Reviews
I loved the book. I love the way Jo Knowles writes. She has written some wonderful, and unforgettable books starting with See You at Harry's, Jumping Off Swings, Read Between the Lines,and now Still A Work In Progress. When I finished her latest book I sat for a long time and just savored the words,the voice,the emotions I had just experienced with that old lump-in-the-throat that tells me..That was one great book!
Jo Knowles is one of the most exciting writers I have ever read. She consistently comes up with great characters that you really care about, and gives them voices that are so real, so believable, so natural that you think I might be able to write like that! But she does it for every book that she has written.
You get to know the remarkable Noah and his friends Ryan and Sam, and feel as though you know them. I love to read books that have believable voices speaking like believable people. It is a great thrill to read such books aloud, and make them come alive!
I do not like to tell people too much about a book, and I don't want anyone to tell me too much....I want to READ it!
You Will Want To Read This Beautiful Book
Thank You, Jo Knowles for your continuing great Works in Progress!
The book is narrated by Noah, a 7th grade boy in a rather small school. The school is so small that everyone knows each other and wandering from classroom to classroom is a hairless cat named Curly who seems to have a personality of his own. His two best friends are Sam and Ryan, and as most boys this age, they have begun to take an interest in girls. When Sam gets a girlfriend, you start to think that the three boys are going to be torn apart, and although it does create some tension, issues between the boys work out in their own way. Noah also has an older sister, Emma, who is a strict vegan and refuses to eat around others eating anything that has been killed. Her many demands about food, in fact, have taken over Noah and his parents’ lives. So, they eat the veggies and tofu and other concoctions that Emma creates in the kitchen, all while yearning for a juicy burger, greasy pizza, or lasagna, but make no complaints, afraid that the Thing They Don’t Talk About could happen again. But, as you pretty much expect from the beginning of the story the Thing They Don’t Talk About does reoccur, and it is what you think it is from the moment you meet Emma, but the story is really about Noah and the effect of this on his life and emotions. Yes, have the tissues ready for the heartbreaking moments, but know too, there will be laugh out loud times and times that will have you pondering what you would do in that situation. Cause that’s what Jo Knowles does. She makes you really think, she creates characters that you love, and she leaves you wanting more. 5★ Grades 5-8
What I love about this book, besides the humor, the class pet is hilarious, is that it doesn't try to wrap everything up in a bow. It shows that happiness can still be found even if life is as the title says, still a work in progress.
Like Kate Messner's The Seventh Wish, Jo Knowles book tackles issues that confront our young people and does it in a way that's supportive while being entertaining and enlightening. This book is wonderful. Don't miss it.