Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 12
- Grade: 2 to 12
A middle-grade novel thoughtfully explores the realities of parents’ divorce
Twelve-year-old Justine’s parents are recently divorced. She and her little sister, Bea, go back and forth between their parents’ homes in Montreal. Their mother, whose anxiety manifests as the need to control, believes that their father and beloved half-sister are a bad influence on Justine and Bea. So, she enlists Justine in collecting evidence that would lead to getting sole custody.
Justine accepts her mother’s view of her father at first and begins writing detailed notes about his behavior: He doesn’t stick to Bea’s strict bedtime. He’s late dropping them off at school. He makes sandwiches with white bread. But when Justine crafts an outright lie for her mother’s court case, she starts to question her mother’s behavior, and her own.
This thoughtful, supportive look at parental alienation and its impact on children tenderly balances this difficult topic with moments of joy, love, and connection. Throughout the book, Justine’s clever, unique voice guides readers as she navigates complicated family dynamics and summons the courage to tell the truth, no matter the consequences.
About the author
MONIQUE POLAK is a regular contributor to The Montreal Gazette and has been published in many other major publications such as the Globe and Mail, The National Post, and Newsday. She is also the author of the Sports Stories novel Flip Turn, a Canadian Children's Centre Our Choice selection, and the SideStreets novels All In and On the Game, which was also an Our Choice selection. She lives in Montreal with her husband and daughter, where she teaches writing and English Literature.