Sunday, June 16, 2024

Kyra, Just for Today, by Sara Zarr

Things used to be really bad back when Kyra's mother was still drinking.  But five years ago, her Mom sobered up and started attending AA meetings.  Kyra too started going to her own meetings for kids with family members who have addiction issues.  And through group, Kyra got to know Lu, another girl at her school with a father who drinks.  They became best friends and confidants, which made coping a lot easier.

But as seventh grade begins, things are changing.  Lu is making new friends and doesn't seem to want to hang out as much.  She doesn't even always show up at group anymore.  It's as if Lu is embarassed by the whole thing and doesn't want her new friends to find out.  It could not happen at a worse time.  Kyra thinks her Mom has started drinking again and she really wishes she could talk with Lu about it, but Lu is avoiding her.

As things get worse, Kyra struggles to keep things together.  She knows that she can't solve her Mom's addiction, but when Mom is the only thing she has, she has to do something!  When a crisis occurs and Kyra finds herself truly on her own, she has to make a decision about whether she's going to let her mother hold her down or whether she's going to look out for herself and make a call for help that may get her mother in trouble.

Told with great sensitivity and insight (and obviously based on real-life experience), Kyra's struggles create a compelling story about love and the challenge of preserving familial love when it is being torn apart by the impact of addiction.  Written in a way that remains authentic, while being entirely age appropriate for middle school readers, Zarr has crafted a story that will resonate with children coming from similar situations.  One hopes that such a young reader will feel validated by this story.  However, I would offer a far more important wish that they have a good friend or two who will read this book and be better able to help their struggling friend through a deeper understanding.

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