The Benefits of Being an Octopus
NPR Best Book of 2018, Bank Street List for Best Children's Books of 2019, Named to the Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fisher List, Maine's Student Book Award List, Louisiana Young Reader's Choice Award List, Rhode Island Middle School Book Award 2020 List, 2020 Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award Nominee, 2021 South Carolina Junior Book Award Nominee, 2020-2021 Truman Award (Missouri) Nominee, Middle School Virginia Readers’ Choice Titles for 2020–2021, Charlie May Simon Award 2020–2021 List, South Carolina Book Awards Nominee, 2020–2021, and 2023 Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Book Award nominee.
Some people can do their homework. Some people get to have crushes on boys. Some people have other things they've got to do.
Seventh-grader Zoey has her hands full as she takes care of her much younger siblings after school every day while her mom works her shift at the pizza parlor. Not that her mom seems to appreciate it. At least there's Lenny, her mom's boyfriend—they all get to live in his nice, clean trailer.
At school, Zoey tries to stay under the radar. Her only friend Fuchsia has her own issues, and since they're in an entirely different world than the rich kids, it's best if no one notices them.
Zoey thinks how much easier everything would be if she were an octopus: eight arms to do eight things at once. Incredible camouflage ability and steady, unblinking vision. Powerful protective defenses.
Unfortunately, she's not totally invisible, and one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club. Even though Zoey resists participating, debate ultimately leads her to see things in a new way: her mom’s relationship with Lenny, Fuchsia's situation, and her own place in this town of people who think they're better than her. Can Zoey find the courage to speak up, even if it means risking the most stable home she's ever had?
This moving debut novel explores the cultural divides around class and the gun debate through the eyes of one girl, living on the edges of society, trying to find her way forward.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - jennybeast - LibraryThing
Powerful look at poverty, domestic abuse, and the possibilities of escape. I like that there were no easy answers, but the characters were still able to start a new life. It's bleak, but there's some ... Read full review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - ecataldi - LibraryThing
Honestly one of the most engaging and eye opening middle grade books I've ever read. Perfect for getting young minds to either think about those who have to struggle to make ends meet or it's a mirror ... Read full review