Some children have moral compasses so strong, you wonder if it is an innate part of their nature or whether their parents instilled in them this fundamental respect for fairness and justice. It never ceases to amaze me how even young people can experience overwhelming desires to solve some of society’s significant challenges. Perhaps that’s the reason why I loved Every Shiny Thing, the new beautiful middle grade novel by Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison. Or perhaps it was the more complicated notion of what happens when these desires to “correct” come at the expense of your own better judgment. Either way, one thing is certain: Every Shiny Thing is a beautiful and intriguing new middle grade novel that I can’t wait to get on the shelf in our library.
Every Shiny Thing is the story of two unlikely friends, Lauren and Sierra, whose worlds collide when Sierra is sent to live with foster parents who happen to be Lauren’s neighbors. Lauren is grappling with her parents decision to send her autistic brother to a fancy boarding school out of town, and Sierra is struggling with being apart from her alcoholic mother. Both girls are lost- until they find each other. But when Lauren enlists Sierra in her plan to raise money to help less fortunate autistic children get the therapeutic services they require, her plan takes a turn towards the illegal— and their friendship takes a downturn too. Will Lauren’s desire for justice cost the girls their new bond?
Told both in powerful verse and authentic prose, Every Shiny Thing is a compelling look at privilege, a flawed health care system and the lengths we go to to please new friends. I love the unique lens through which Lauren views this injustice – children who require interventional services like occupational and physical therapy but do not have the funds to cover the recommended treatment. It’s a thought provoking and very real problem, and her struggle is understandable. Morrison handles Lauren’s exploration authentically and with a light touch, especially when her excellent intentions quickly go bad. Similarly, Jensen tells Sierra’s story through first person verse which simply sings, and her battle is also a familiar one for so many kids: straddling the fine line between pleasing a new friend or enlisting help when that same friend’s behavior is out of control. A beautiful story tackling important issues, Every Shiny Thing gets two trunks up! You know it’s a good one when you can’t stop thinking about it weeks after you’ve finished the book.
Want the book? Get it here! Every Shiny Thing, by Laurie Morrison and Cordelia Jensen. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received a review copy of this book, but all opinions contained herein are expressly our own.