Lisa Graff’s latest novel is a feast for all kinds of readers. She writes convincingly in the voice of a middle school student, and young readers will relate easily to the main character, Trent. Graff’s stories always foster a better understanding of young people in parents and teachers, but never more so than in Lost in the Sun.
Lisa Graff has written several books for middle grade readers, including the National Book Award nominee A Tangle of Knots. Graff has an uncanny ability to give a simple story an intensity that makes you want to keep turning the pages. In her latest offering, Absolutely Almost, 11-year-old Albie is struggling with the idea that he should be “better” than he is: better at math, better at spelling, better at being cool. We asked Graff a few questions about Albie, about writing, and about fitting in.
It is true that Lisa Graff’s latest book, Absolutely Almost, brings to mind someone else’s work, but not because Graff is in any way imitative—she’s far too brilliant to sound like someone else. Lately the patrons of my school library have been asking, “Do you have any books like Wonder by R.J. Palacio?” and now I have the perfect offering. Like Wonder, Absolutely Almost is the story of a boy struggling to fit in. Unlike Auggie, however, Graff’s protagonist Albie doesn’t have any noticeable problems; he just cannot succeed at school.
In the world of Lisa Graff’s new book, A Tangle of Knots—a world not all that different from our own—people are often born with a Talent. That special skill might be something as grand as being able to float on air, but mostly the Talents involve everyday activities like whistling, knitting, climbing trees or baking cakes. Cake-baking is Cady’s Talent, and she can tell...