Every Single Second by Tricia Springstubb
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
This book’s summary, for some reason, made the actual plot a surprise to me. It sounded like it was about two girls named Nella and Clem and how they were excited that there was going to be a leap second, and also something bad happened to another girl, Angela, because of her brother. Here’s a more complete synopsis that might get this book into the right hands (and possibly more hands):
Twelve-year-old Nella’s friendship with Angela is changing even before Clem moves to town. Issues of class (Angela’s family is poor; Clem’s is wealthy; Nella’s is in the middle) and race boil over when Angela’s brother shoots and kills a black man from another neighborhood, ostensibly while defending a frightened white neighbor. It’s a big year for Nella as she also learns her father has a secret, her Catholic school closes and she has to go to the public school with the black kids, students protest outside Angela’s house, and her great-grandmother has a stroke. Things come together in the end and don’t wrap up completely neatly but neatly enough. I also liked that the metaphors are subtle and meaningful enough to tug your heartstrings but not so obvious that they smack you in the face. It’s a gentle touch that can do that, and Springstubb has it. Nella struggles with her Italian/Catholic identity, issues of faith and God and heaven and fate, what it means to be a friend, how to respect her elders, and more – all of which she does gracefully and admirably, especially for a 12-year-old. And oh yeah there’s a minor plot about there being a leap second and how Clem is really excited about it and Nella is not.
Other features of interest: Nella’s baby brother, Vinny, has delayed speech and they worry about him (he ends up starting to speak just fine); the shooting incident is firmly rooted in the present day and Black Lives Matter / police brutality issues (Anthony is not a police officer but is a security guard and is a white man with a gun who doesn’t think before shooting); Angela and Anthony’s father is an army vet with PTSD; Nella convinces Angela to shoplift and only Angela gets caught; and Nella becomes interested in boys and has her first kiss (which is very tame).