Thanks to @kidlitexchange and @scholasticinc for sharing an ARC of The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by @onewpc. This book is out November 10, 2020; add it to your list now so you don’t forget to grab a copy!
Anna is used to being in charge of everything; as the oldest sister, she naturally takes care of her younger brother and sister. Her dad works long hours at his restaurant, often spending the night in his office, so Anna also cooks dinner and makes sure her siblings do their homework. She even picks her little brother up from school. Anna does all this because her mother can’t - or won’t - Anna’s not entirely sure which. She just knows her mom stays in bed most of the time, and if she’s not in bed, she’s yelling at Anna for being a horrible daughter. Anna knows there’s some sort of mental illness making her mom unable to perform everyday tasks, but she doesn’t know what it is, or how to get help. She tries to lose herself in working in her father’s restaurant, where she loves to help cook… and watch Rory, the cute new delivery boy. As she gets to know Rory, Anna realizes that everyone has some sort of problem, and maybe she should ask for help with her mother. But that task seems impossible, until something happens that forces the family to take action.
This is a powerful book about mental illness and how it might be addressed and handled. I liked how Anna’s mother’s condition was discussed, but wished there was more about Rory - his illness fell a little flat for me, and I wish it had been explored more. I think it would help teens a lot more to see Anna not only dealing with her mother, but with a friend’s situation as well. Besides that, it was an interesting read, touching on typical YA tropes in a unique way and deftly balancing mental illness.