Eggs by Jerry Spinelli.

Nine-year-old David simply cannot get along with his grandmother.  Ever since his mother died, she has been taking care of him while his father works.  But every word she says is like a challenge to him and a reminder that his mother is gone.  It isn’t until David meets Primrose, a strange thirteen-year-old girl, that he starts to open up again.  Primrose lives with her mother, who works as a palm reader.  She resents that their roles are often reversed and has decided to move out of the house and use an abandoned van in their yard as her room.  When she befriends David, she too begins to slowly realize what she has and what she is missing in her life.

This book’s title is perfection with both characters because they are so brittle on the outside and so golden and soft inside.  So very breakable.  But it also holds the key to the writing itself which is filled with a delicious tension and its own shell and hidden insides.  The writing is golden, liquid and tense at the same time.  Add to that the two main characters and you have a real gem.  Both children are vivid and complex people whose very relationship is filled with complexity, anger and need.  They are never two-dimensional and neither are the adults in their lives.  While it would have been easy to make David’s grandmother a secondary and forgettable character, Spinelli takes the time to make her real and allow the readers to see her own fragility and pain. 

There is a delicacy here, a tenderness that is not often seen in children’s books.  And so often Spinelli takes the risk of disrupting that, wrenching it, allowing us to see exactly what is frail and fragile and what is strong and unbreakable in life. 

I consider this book one of the top books for elementary to middle grade readers of the year.  Highly recommended for both boys and girls of that age.