Alison McGhee


Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (March 14, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN: 0763626171

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From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8-In the summer before seventh grade, Edwina Beckey keeps her world in order by making lists and wearing colored rubber bands on her wrist to snap when she needs reminding (to quit tipping back in chairs, to stop covering her mouth when she laughs). There's an enigmatic sixth purple one, too, but Eddie doesn't share its true meaning. She also counts on her best friend, Sally, to be there for her. But Sally's beloved grandmother, Willie, who has raised Sally and performed such loving tasks as braiding her hair, is dying. While Sally angrily begins to try to shed memories of everything important to her, Eddie struggles against changes, to keep her friendship intact, and to accept Willie's imminent death herself. At the story's emotional crest, Eddie has shed her lists and no longer needs the rubber bands. She uses them to braid and fasten Sally's hair, and reveals the special meaning of the last one. A number of metaphors weave through the story: a "meander" or small stream that changes its banks, talismans for keeping dogs and death away, and others. Snap would make a strong discussion book for small-group reading. Like Kevin Henkes's Olive's Ocean (Greenwillow, 2003), it features memorable characters and a tolerance for eccentricity, emotional subtlety and complexity, themes of acceptance of death and love, and a spare and poetic text that begs to be reread and savored.-Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist
*Starred Review* Gr. 4-6. Edwina Beckly wears rubber bands on her arm; she snaps them to remind herself of things. The white one reminds her to cover her mouth when she laughs; the yellow one is so she won't tip back in chairs; the blue one helps her remember to think of her best friend Sally's grandmother as Willie, a person in her own right. Willie is on Eddie's mind a lot because she has a blood disease that is killing her. Who will take care of Sally when Willie dies? Jill, Sally's mother, is young and barely speaks. Who will braid Sally's hair? The story is pregnant with tragedy, but it's not so much what happens as the way McGhee, the author of three adult books, writes it. Her writing is precise, evocative, and sure, and although the story is told from the point of view of an 11-year-old, there's a purity of thought that exceeds much of what is presented in middle-grade fiction. Yet, despite this level of sophistication, Eddie and Sally both seem very real. The understated tone of the narrative draws readers near, as when one leans close to hear someone speaking softly. Children will come away thinking they have heard something quite profound about love, fear, and hope for the future. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


Eleven-year-old Eddie Beckey makes lists for just about everything and everyone in her life. And for matters of real importance, she wears (and snaps) an array of colored rubber bands on her left wrist. Unfortunately, the world is not always so orderly and knowable - and when a change befalls Eddie's best friend, Sally, Eddie is left to question everything she knows about life, friendship, and the future.

Excerpt from Chapter 1

I love not only lists but all list-like arrays of objects, such as rows of rubber bands. I have six of them in all different colors on my left wrist, to be snapped when necessary.

1. The red one: storing food in my cheeks when I eat.
"Eddie, sweetie, you're not a chipmunk," my father once said. "We have plenty of provisions to get you through the winter."

2. The blue one: thinking of my best friend Sally Hobart's grandmother as Willie instead of Sally's grandmother. Sally's grandmother loves to walk. She walks to Sterns and back almost every day from the house where she lives with Sally, up here in North Sterns, in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, which is how Sally and I like to refer to our home. Sally's grandmother carries a green pail in one hand and a stick in the other and she swings her arms. Sometimes she sings. When we pass her on the school bus she waves the pail and the stick back and forth over her head and shouts out our names, mine and Sally's.

But Sally's grandmother said to me recently, "My name is Willie, did you know that?"

I realized right in that moment that I had never called Sally's grandmother by name, any kind of name. I had never said, "Mrs. Hobart," or "Grandma Hobart," or even "Hey." And there was something in her voice, something that made me think she wanted to be called Willie.

So I added the blue rubber band to my wrist...

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