Thursday, December 12, 2019

Focused, written by Alyson Gerber, reviewed by Stephanie Wilson

Summary: Have you ever wondered what it feels like to have ADHD? Focused gives readers a glimpse inside this often misunderstood disease. Clea has been struggling with school for a while. She tries to hide her problems from her parents and friends. The increased demands of her 7th grade coursework is more than Clea can handle. Her inability to stop interrupting and blurting out what she is thinking affects her friendships. Her close friends drift away and her grades begin to slide. Clea needs to keep her grades up in order to stay on the chess team. When her attempts to work harder and stay focused on her own fail, Clea’s parents have her tested for ADHD. Clea struggles to accept her diagnosis and adapt to the changes it brings.

Straight Talk for Librarians: Focused shatters the traditional myths surrounding ADHD. ADHD affects girls but their symptoms are more subtle and often dismissed. Gerber’s experience mirrors this. She struggled in school as early as first grade but wasn’t diagnosed until college. Clea is an engaging character and her challenges feel authentic. The scenes where we “see” her thoughts in motion are revelatory. Her friends want to support her but they struggle with her impulsive behavior. Gerber realistically portrays how ADHD affects every single aspect of Clea’s life. Focused is more than simply a disease-of-the-week driven novel. The novel also has a strong plot line about chess teams and chess tournaments. Gerber does a fantastic job of revealing this world to those with limited knowledge of the game. The lower reading level and high-interest subject make it a great choice for striving readers. Fans of chess will enjoy this novel. Focused is a great book for students with ADHD, students who want to understand more about ADHD and teachers who teach students with ADHD.

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