When Life Gives You O.J.

by Erica S. Perl
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars

All Zelly Fried wants is a dog, but her parents refuse. But then they move from Brooklyn to Burlington, Vermont, to take in Zelly’s grandfather, Ace. Ace hatches a plan for Zelly to have a practice dog made out of an orange juice jug. Zelly, of course, thinks he’s nuts – but eventually she gives in because she so desperately wants a dog. Meanwhile, her best friend goes off to camp and makes new friends and a new identity for herself, while Zelly’s dog-walking earns her a new friend around the neighborhood. Zelly’s friendship and family struggles are engaging and realistic. Ace and Zelly’s relationship also makes great strides and they come to a new understanding.

I loved this story. I loved Ace’s way of speaking, both his sense of humor and speaking in all caps (which reminded me a little bit of A Prayer for Owen Meany). I loved Zelly and her plastic OJ jug and her new friend Jeremy. I’m so pleased there’s a sequel. I also really appreciated how Zelly and her friend Ali modeled good conflict resolution between friends. There’s also a small storyline with a bully that is handled well. Overall, satisfying and funny.

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