Told in alternating points of view, this middle grade novel, following best friends Ronny and Jo, is about anxiety, being in over your head, and learning to accept help—even if you don’t know how to ask
Eight hundred seventy-eight dollars. That’s how much Ronny needs by January 4th to make to keep his family’s only car from getting repossessed. Since a workplace injury disabled his dad and forced the family to move from their home into the apartment complex across the street, Ronny’s been learning all sorts of things—like what letters marked with Final Notice means and that banks can take cars away for being behind on payments.
His best friend Josefina Ramos is also counting down until the start of January when her life could change forever—that’s when she has her big cello audition at the prestigious music academy Maple Hill. Except she can’t play a solo performance without something disastrous happening and no one seems to hear her when she talks about how nervous she is.
As the countdown to the new year rolls ahead, Ronny and Jo learn what can happen to best-laid plans and how to depend on one another and their community when things get tough.
Matthew Landis slays boredom wherever it lurks in his eighth-grade social studies classroom. He lives in Doylestown, PA, with his wife and four kids, thirty chickens, and hopes to one day achieve whatever level of fame allows his giant family to vacation in Cape Town and go on endless safaris.
"With notes of O. Henry’s 'The Gift of the Magi' and plenty of winter weather mishaps in the lead-up to Christmas, this is a strong seasonal choice, but the universality of the protagonists’ struggles makes this a title with year-round appeal. A well-paced, engaging, heartwarming story." —Kirkus
"Told in alternating perspectives, this sweet middle grade story focuses on friendship, courage, and community. Readers will be rooting for Ronny and Jo the whole way. Both main characters feel authentic, and the story is fast-paced. Landis excellently wraps up the story realistically . . . A wonderful realistic fiction addition to middle grade shelves." —School Library Journal
"Landis spotlights variations on overwhelm in a feel-good story with Hallmark Christmas movie vibes . . . A rosy tone and wildly supportive community match the holiday setting, while distinct character voices sell the dual-POV narrative." —Publishers Weekly
"From Ronny, Jo, and their friends to their teachers and the senior citizens, the characters are well drawn and convincing. The dual narrative unfolds in alternating first-person chapters, written from Jo's and Ronny’s points of view and offering useful insider/outsider perspectives on their challenges and experiences. With increasing tension in each story line, the pace never falters in this involving, uplifting novel." —Booklist