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Annotation: Twelve-year-old Clea wants to do her homework, follow instructions, pay attention in school, and play chess on the school team, but it's difficult. When she is diagnosed with ADHD, she becomes determined to learn how to focus.
Catalog Number: #181907
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 288 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-338-18597-7 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-4345-4
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-338-18597-3 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-4345-7
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018044094
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Kirkus Reviews
Gerber, who tackled scoliosis with Braced (2017), turns her lens on a young woman with ADHD.M
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Gerber, who tackled scoliosis with Braced (2017), turns her lens on a young woman with ADHD.Massachusetts seventh-grader Clea loves magic and chess, hates math, and wants to be a better friend, sister, and student. No matter how hard she tries, she struggles to finish homework and tests on time, putting her spot on the chess team in jeopardy. Meanwhile friendships hit a snag when she impulsively blurts out sensitive information her best friend and chess teammate, Red, would rather keep secret. When teachers and the school counselor suggest her struggles may be related to ADHD, Clea is resistant to diagnosis and treatment, considering it a black mark and further evidence that she is somehow broken. Through it all a friendship blooms with Sanam, another chess teammate, who encourages Clea with her own story of learning differences and her persistent optimism. Though not a biographical story, Gerber's tender first-person narrative perfectly resonates with the ADHD experience, which she knows firsthand. The supportive world Clea inhabits both at home and at school is an ideal place free of stigma; would that all students with learning differences experience such in real life. Gerber's text and author's note feature excellent information and resources for ADHD brains and the hearts who love them. Clea and Red present as white while Sanam's name suggests she's Middle Eastern or South Asian. An accurate and compassionate picture of growing up with ADHD is the icing on the cake of this well-told novel. (Fiction. 8-12)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Seventh-grader Clea struggles to finish homework on time, has trouble concentrating in school, and is often forgetful, disorganized, and blurts out things without thinking. Best friend Red is supportive, but he doesn't really understand her challenges, and classmates make fun of her because they think she's not smart. Clea loves chess and knows that if she continues to fail assignments, she won't be allowed on the school's team. Luckily, her teachers notice she's struggling and suggest Clea get tested for ADHD. She's soon diagnosed, but even with medication, things don't just automatically improve. After she blurts out a secret Red didn't want revealed, he refuses to speak to her. Sanam, Clea's dyslexic chess teammate, offers helpful advice, and with time, Clea's family comes to understand what she's going through. Clea also has a realistic love-hate relationship with chess champ Dylan, and a special one with her six-year-old sister, who has difficulty enunciating words. Clea's likability, persistence, and ability to bounce back from adversity is truly inspiring. Author Gerber (Braced, 2017), who has ADHD herself, is able to compassionately and realistically convey the experience in this sweetly appealing story, which concludes with a list of helpful resources.
Word Count: 60,232
Reading Level: 4.6
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.6 / points: 9.0 / quiz: 500701 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.6 / points:14.0 / quiz:Q75853
Lexile: 750L

Following Braced, which had three starred reviews, comes a story of a girl caught between her love of chess and her ADHD.

Clea can't control her thoughts. She knows she has to do her homework . . . but she gets distracted. She knows she can't just say whatever thought comes into her head . . . but sometimes she can't help herself. She know she needs to focus . . . but how can she do that when the people around her are always chewing gum loudly or making other annoying noises?

It's starting to be a problem-not just in school, but when Clea's playing chess or just hanging out with her best friend. Other kids are starting to notice. When Clea fails one too many tests, her parents take her to be tested, and she finds out that she has ADHD, which means her attention is all over the place instead of where it needs to be.

Clea knows life can't continue the way it's been going. She's just not sure how you can fix a problem that's all in your head. But that's what she's going to have to do, to find a way to focus.

In a starred review, Booklist called Alyson Gerber's first novel, Braced, "a masterfully constructed and highly empathetic debut about a different kind of
acceptance." With Focused, she explores even further how, when life gives you a challenge, the best way to face it is with an open mind, an open heart, and the open support of the people around you.

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