Abigail (don’t call her “Abby”) is so excited about starting sixth grade, she has to make lists just to calm herself down. She’s ready to rule the school with best friends Alli and Cami and their wicked pom pom choreography when disaster strikes three times over: Abigail ends up in a different homeroom than her friends; she doesn’t make the pom squad; and her homeroom teacher pairs her with wildly unpopular Gabby Marco for a year-long letter writing assignment. Always, Abigail is a story of friendship found in unexpected places, and the cost of kindness versus popularity.

Author Nancy Cavanaugh (This Journal Belongs to Ratchet) tells much of the story through lists, which capture Abigail's essential goodness along with the ways she fails Gabby as a friend. As she realizes her elite clique of friends aren’t such nice people, she lists “Something I Was Starting To Be Thankful For: That AlliCam weren’t in my homeroom.” When she finally overcomes her fear of unpopularity by proxy and sticks up for Gabby, it’s a personal victory and a blow to the bullying impulse.

The story is never preachy. Readers who empathize with Abigail’s desire to do the right thing while holding onto her privileged status can see for themselves the consequences of failing. For kids on the cusp of young adulthood and ready to advance as quickly as possible, Always, Abigail makes a compelling case for being kind and enjoying a little more of childhood while it lasts.

 

Heather Seggel reads too much and writes all about it in Northern California.

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