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Worser
2022
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Publishers Weekly Review
In this memorable depiction of grief, loss, and life-altering change, white 12-year-old word aficionado and contrarian William Wyatt Orser, nicknamed Worser, struggles to accept the help of others in the aftermath of his mother's stroke. Seeking a refuge to focus on his "Masterwork"--a lexicon years in the making--and escape his prying aunt Iris, the creative and emotive younger sister to his no-nonsense college professor mother who moves in to provide care, Worser becomes a regular at a quiet used bookstore run by a standoffish bookseller. When his longtime crush Donya Khoury, cued by her surname as Middle Eastern, also needs a place to escape, Worser suggests the bookstore and finds himself letting others in for the first time since his father's death eight years earlier. Ziegler's (Revenge of the Teacher's Pets) compassionate characterization of Worser, whose unaddressed fear and grief often cause him to lash out and deflect from his own shortcomings, and nuanced portrayal of his changing relationships with his family and friends make this character-driven narrative a cathartic and emotionally charged experience. Ages 9--12. Agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary. (Mar.)
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