Every Shiny Thing

Every Shiny Thing

In this beautifully constructed middle-grade novel, told half in prose and half in verse, Lauren prides herself on being a good sister, and Sierra is used to taking care of her mom. When Lauren’s parents send her brother to a therapeutic boarding school for teens on the autism spectrum and Sierra moves to a foster home in Lauren’s wealthy neighborhood, both girls are lost...

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Title:Every Shiny Thing
Author:Cordelia Jensen
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Every Shiny Thing Reviews

  • Jenn Bishop

    I'm such a sucker for alternating POV books, and yet, I hold them to high standards. Both perspectives need to be equally compelling, both characters need to have equivalently high stakes and distinct interior worlds. EVERY SHINING THING gives us two characters from very different backgrounds. Lauren's family is affluent and stable, but her older autistic brother's departure for a special school several states away has left her unhinged. In his absence, she turns to a new, quickly developing, we

    I'm such a sucker for alternating POV books, and yet, I hold them to high standards. Both perspectives need to be equally compelling, both characters need to have equivalently high stakes and distinct interior worlds. EVERY SHINING THING gives us two characters from very different backgrounds. Lauren's family is affluent and stable, but her older autistic brother's departure for a special school several states away has left her unhinged. In his absence, she turns to a new, quickly developing, well-intentioned but ultimately troubling habit. Sierra, the daughter of two addicts, is settling in with a foster family next door, and in Lauren she finds a big-hearted fast friend. But there's a troubling undercurrent to this friendship that hearkens back to Sierra's relationship to her alcoholic mother.

    This upper middle grade story is wonderfully realistic -- the level of detail and character development is really extraordinary. My heart ached for Sierra, whose POV is told in free verse. And I was worried sick about Lauren! Oh my gosh, my heart was pounding as this story reached its climax. But perhaps what I admired most was how, through Sierra and Lauren's story, the authors try to tackle a really complex subject. We live in a country with such incredible inequality that it can feel hopeless from the point of view of a middle schooler. What *can* we do about it? I love the way they broach this subject and I'm so glad this story will be out in the world come April 2018. We need it.

  • Kathie

    Five big shiny stars for EVERY SHINY THING. I loved so many things about this multi-layered and rich story, including the prose/verse format, character development, and a very real look at the complex teenage mind. This will definitely find a place in my favorite #MGlit of 2018.

  • Kate Olson

    It is incredibly rare for me to say this, but this book did every. single. thing. right. If I were reviewing for a trade pub, I would recommend a star because this is my middle grade/middle school perfection. And to put it in perspective, this is the first MG title that has made me cry since I read THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU by Jen Maschari back in August.....and I read a LOT of MG!

    EVERY SHINY THING nails it with the following things:

    * gorgeous alternating verse and prose - this structure provides

    It is incredibly rare for me to say this, but this book did every. single. thing. right. If I were reviewing for a trade pub, I would recommend a star because this is my middle grade/middle school perfection. And to put it in perspective, this is the first MG title that has made me cry since I read THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU by Jen Maschari back in August.....and I read a LOT of MG!

    EVERY SHINY THING nails it with the following things:

    * gorgeous alternating verse and prose - this structure provides such texture and richness to the book, and the varying pace of the story is exhilarating

    * Sierra's heartbreaking (but also heartwarming??) story of a teen girl in foster care

    * the messages about addiction - those hit me HARD, especially about AlaTeen

    * Lauren's struggle with missing her brother and her altruistic (but illegal) compulsions are written so rawly and so compassionately that it's impossible to separate empathy from disapproval of her actions

    * The Quaker community and school setting was completely original and the first I have encountered in my middle grade reading. It was fresh and educational and done in a teaching-not-preaching way.

    I could go on and on and on. Required purchase for middle school libraries. Recommended for grades 5 and up.

    Diversity note: This book does it ALL. There are multiple same-sex adult couples, mixed race couples, kids of different racial backgrounds and abilities. These are included in a natural and open way that reads REAL.

    Thanks to the authors for giving a free copy of this book to me for Kid Lit Exchange - all opinions are my own.

  • Suze Lavender

    Ryan is Lauren's world. She loves taking care of her brother and thinks he's doing well at home, but Lauren's parents have chosen to send Ryan to a boarding school where teens on the autism spectrum are supposed to thrive. Lauren is lost, she doesn't know who she is without her brother and misses him dearly. Her parents are convinced it's the best choice for Ryan and don't want to talk about their decision. Lauren's best friend doesn't understand what it's like to feel so lonely and doesn't supp

    Ryan is Lauren's world. She loves taking care of her brother and thinks he's doing well at home, but Lauren's parents have chosen to send Ryan to a boarding school where teens on the autism spectrum are supposed to thrive. Lauren is lost, she doesn't know who she is without her brother and misses him dearly. Her parents are convinced it's the best choice for Ryan and don't want to talk about their decision. Lauren's best friend doesn't understand what it's like to feel so lonely and doesn't support her either. Lauren is miserable and to make herself feel better she starts a school project. She wants to raise money for autistic kids with parents who don't have a high income. Her approach isn't conventional, she steals from the rich to aid the poor, but is that the right way to help people?

    Sierra's mother is having problems and Sierra is used to taking care of things at home. Her mother was arrested and has been sent to prison. Sierra's father can't take care of his daughter either, so Sierra is being sent to a foster family. She ends up living next door to Lauren, who immediately treats her as a friend. Sierra wants to help Lauren with her plans, but she doesn't approve of her methods. Eventually the truth will come to light, what will happen to both girls when Lauren's thefts are being discovered and what are the consequences for Sierra, who was only trying to be there for her friend?

    Every Shiny Thing is an impressive story. Sierra is strong. She's used to being there for others and will always help if she can. It doesn't matter if she pays a price for it over and over again, she still does it. My heart ached for this sweet girl. She has so much to offer, but life hasn't treated her kindly. She understands Lauren's pain and vice versa. Lauren isn't feeling complete without Ryan and nobody helps her to deal with her grief. Sierra does understands how she feels and they have an instant connection, but Lauren gets herself into a big mess she can't get out of and drags Sierra with her. Finding out what the consequences of their actions would be kept me glued to the pages.

    Every Shiny Thing mixes prose, for Lauren, with verse, for Sierra. I loved that this story has two distinct voices. They are equally strong, which makes the book both refreshing and fascinating at the same time. I loved the combination, Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison are making it work in a fantastic way. I could easily feel the emotions of both girls and was captivated by their story from beginning to end. There's sadness and grief, but also plenty of hope, which makes Every Shiny Thing really special.

  • Charlotte Huang

    Told with so much heart. Absolutely loved this one.

  • Ms. Yingling

    E ARC from Netgalley.com

    Lauren is angry with her well-to-do parents because they have sent her brother Ryan, who is on the autism spectrum, off to a residential school. She misses him, and thinks her parents just got tired of dealing with Ryan's problems. She attends a private Quaker school that preaches simplicity even though most of the students are from very rich backgrounds and don't necessarily follow these teachings. Sierra's father is in jail, and her mother is an alcoholic who has finall

    E ARC from Netgalley.com

    Lauren is angry with her well-to-do parents because they have sent her brother Ryan, who is on the autism spectrum, off to a residential school. She misses him, and thinks her parents just got tired of dealing with Ryan's problems. She attends a private Quaker school that preaches simplicity even though most of the students are from very rich backgrounds and don't necessarily follow these teachings. Sierra's father is in jail, and her mother is an alcoholic who has finally found herself unable to take care of Sierra. Anne and Carl, neighbors of Lauren's, are fostering Sierra, who goes to the same school that Lauren does. Used to taking care of herself as well as her mother, Sierra is surprised at the level of affluence, but is glad that Lauren befriends her and helps her navigating the different environment. However, Lauren's anger turns into a plan to appropriate unused items from the well-to-do and sell them in order to donate money to a program for autistic teens. Lauren starts not only stealing from friends, but from stores as well. While Sierra doesn't want to help Lauren, she doesn't want to lose her as a friend, either. There are several projects going on at school, and lots of drama as Lauren and her friend Audrey fall out. Sierra's mother struggles with rehab, and Sierra tries to stay in contact with her friend Cassidy, but Lauren's issues imperil her own progress. Eventually, Sierra realizes that in order to help the people you care about, you sometimes have to bring their misdeeds to light.

    Strengths:

    Weaknesses: I had a little bit of trouble believing that Lauren would really miss her brother than much, and the level of affluence (which I definitely saw when I taught at a private school) might be utterly baffling to my students! Could have done without the "verse" style, but it does help to delineate Sierra's story.

    What I really think: The shoplifting story alone made this book worth reading-- it's a topic not covered well enough. Add the foster care story, and this is a very readable and timely book.

  • Sarah

    Generally, I am one who quickly tires of literary trends. However, I'm still a fan of books told from alternating points of view. Every Shiny Thing, which centers around two middle school girls, does an excellent job of doing just that.

    The novel ping-pongs between text and verse. Lauren narrates her side of the story in traditional text. As the seventh-grade school year begins she is angry with her parents for sending her older brother off to a special boarding school for students on the autism

    Generally, I am one who quickly tires of literary trends. However, I'm still a fan of books told from alternating points of view. Every Shiny Thing, which centers around two middle school girls, does an excellent job of doing just that.

    The novel ping-pongs between text and verse. Lauren narrates her side of the story in traditional text. As the seventh-grade school year begins she is angry with her parents for sending her older brother off to a special boarding school for students on the autism spectrum. She has always been close to her brother, Ryan, and feels as though her parents have made a huge mistake by sending him to a school she is certain he hates. Sierra shares her point of view via verse. With a mother in jail she is sent to live with a foster family who reside next door to Lauren's family. Accustomed to caring for her addict mother Sierra is independent and longs for her mother's release. Brought together through proximity, the teens become friends, each in need of companionship. A school project launches Lauren's idea to raise money for families who are not able to afford therapeutic services for their autistic children. But, as Lauren looks around her she sees more and more things in need of fixing so. In response her efforts to raise money become increasingly desperate. At some point lines are crossed and both girls are left with a moral dilemma.

    Initially, I balked at the portions of this book told in verse. Despite my best efforts I've never been particularly keen on poetry. Just tell it to me straight! I always doubt my interpretations of verse so I've tended to avoid it for the most part. However, as I got deeper into the novel I came to appreciate Sierra's story and found verse the appropriate vehicle for her narration. Don't expect me to start quoting Robert Frost anytime soon because I still preferred Lauren's more traditional text but I do think there is value in both formats and this book might inspire young readers who are not as comfortable with standard text to try their hands at writing.

    Aside from simply being a genuinely enjoyable read, Every Shiny Thing offers some valuable thoughts to ponder. Is it ever acceptable to violate a personal code of ethics if the result is for the greater good? How important are honesty and integrity? Where does our personal responsibility lie?

  • Emily

    What a lovely book about family, friendship, grief, change, and forgiveness. I received an ARC of this at NerdcampNJ and had no idea what it was about. The cover, although beautiful, doesn't really suggest how substantive the story is.

    The two main characters, Lauren and Sierra, are both 7th graders. Lauren is struggling with the absence of her older, autistic brother who is beginning his first year at a specialized, residential school in North Carolina (Lauren and her family live in Philadelphia

    What a lovely book about family, friendship, grief, change, and forgiveness. I received an ARC of this at NerdcampNJ and had no idea what it was about. The cover, although beautiful, doesn't really suggest how substantive the story is.

    The two main characters, Lauren and Sierra, are both 7th graders. Lauren is struggling with the absence of her older, autistic brother who is beginning his first year at a specialized, residential school in North Carolina (Lauren and her family live in Philadelphia). Even though she's certain he'll be unhappy there, she's also aware of her own privilege; her brother wouldn't even have this opportunity if her parents weren't financially well-off.

    Sierra's concerns run deep as well. She's been removed from her alcoholic mother's care after an altercation in the parking lot of a local mall and is now begrudgingly living next door to Lauren with much wealthier foster parents.

    The story alternates between them as they try, sometimes not particularly well, to make sense of their changed circumstances. Lauren's narrative is composed in prose. Sierra's in verse. The dual genre structure really works.

    My one critique: I wasn't entirely satisfied with Lauren's resolution -- some of her compulsive behavior seemed smoothed away a little too easily. That said, I loved how diverse the novel's cast of characters was (diverse racial representation, diverse class representation, many different kinds of family configurations, visible LGBTQ adults).

    One other awesome tidbit about this book: The girls go to a Quaker school! I can't recall ever reading a book in which the protagonists attend a Quaker school. It felt pretty darn authentic. It made me wonder if either author attended or taught at one (Morrison was a middle school teacher).

  • Stephanie

    In

    , the POV switches from Lauren, a wealthy, privileged girl who misses her brother who is autistic and sent away to a special school, and Sierra, whose parents are both in jail, forcing her into foster care. Lauren's chapters are written in prose while Sierra's are in verse, which can be a compelling storytelling technique. However I thought Sierra's chapters were much more engaging and well-written than Lauren's, and I feel that if we just stayed in Sierra's POV and Lauren wa

    In

    , the POV switches from Lauren, a wealthy, privileged girl who misses her brother who is autistic and sent away to a special school, and Sierra, whose parents are both in jail, forcing her into foster care. Lauren's chapters are written in prose while Sierra's are in verse, which can be a compelling storytelling technique. However I thought Sierra's chapters were much more engaging and well-written than Lauren's, and I feel that if we just stayed in Sierra's POV and Lauren was a side character, this book would have been more effective. While Sierra's character was flawed she was still a good person and you could still root for her. Lauren, meanwhile, was pretty insufferable. Even when she was trying to do something good, she was being terrible, and not a good friend at all. I also thought the "diversity" was just sort of tacked on, and that we always learned if someone was black or Asian but no one that I recall was described as a white girl. This book is okay and the writing of the poetry was really solid, but it was too preachy and too much of an "issues" book and I don't think I'll be recommending this to any middle grade readers.

    Note: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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