Amazon calculates a product’s star ratings based on a machine learned model instead of a raw data average. The model takes into account factors including the age of a rating, whether the ratings are from verified purchasers, and factors that establish reviewer trustworthiness.
Meet Willa. She’s an awkward eleven-year-old fifth grader with Sensory Processing Disorder, a condition that makes her very sensitive to things like tags on clothing, or socks with crinkles–which make her want to scream. Meet her BFF Ruby, a slightly less awkward 10-year-old fifth grader. They both have an extreme love for gummy bears on ice cream (or sorbet) and their parents are both divorced. Now here comes the crazy part. Willa’s dad and Ruby’s mom are in love. So that means the two girls are practically sisters because of how much time they get together! Yay, right? Not really. Here’s the problem. Nobody but her family and her therapist know that Willa has Sensory Processing Disorder, not even Ruby. When she’s faced with a difficult decision, will she tell the truth? Will they still be friends?
A short and sweet story about family and friendships, Not If I Can Help It is a wonderful book about the secrets, we keep protecting each other, not realizing that they may harm more than help. With characters that you can empathize with, and a beautifully crafted plot, this book echoes social experiences that many of us have faced. This book can help you understand and relate to peers, friends, and family. It is about the anxieties that people of all ages are confronted with, like people not being honest with each other.
This book, like Wonder, addresses issues most children don’t deal with. By the end of the book, I felt like I knew what Willa felt and experienced. This book was an unexpected learning experience for me and is an important read for everyone. Review by Sabina E., age 10, Greater Los Angeles Mensa
Just when I needed a spunky heroine in my life, I found Willa in NOT IF I CAN HELP IT. She has fierce opinions and specific ideas about how she wants things to go. Some of these things are related to her Sensory Processing Disorder, like her needs for clothes to fit a certain way and feel a certain way, but others are simply her own personal preference, like where she wants to go to school next year, and who her dad happens to be dating.
After her dad and her best friend Ruby’s mom announce that they’re dating, Willa realizes she and Ruby aren’t on the same page about it. This begins a big challenge to their relationship and a challenge to Willa’s way of looking at things. She begins to learn that situations and relationships don’t a;ways look the same from other people’s points of view.
For me, that process is precisely what makes this book amazing. Willa navigates that tug-of-war between her own preferences and needs and those of the other important people in her life, mainly her dad and her best friend. She remains a fierce person, fiercely committed to her way of thinking, but also fiercely committed to the people she loves, which makes her all the more lovable and amazing.
NOT IF I CAN HELP IT makes a great read for kids navigating transitions to blended families in their own lives or helping them develop empathy and understanding for the transition in the lives of people close to them. It’s also a great pick for encouraging understanding and empathy toward children with sensory issues. I highly recommend it.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
This new middle-grade novel by Carolyn Mackler is engaging, endearing, and informative. NOT IF I CAN HELP IT follows Willa, a 5th grader with Sensory Processing Disorder, as her comfortable and just-about-manageable world abruptly turns upside-down. The news that Willa’s father and her best friend Ruby’s mother are dating starts a series of challenges that Willa really, really, really doesn’t want to face. Written with humor, a main character who is at once maturely self-aware and childishly in denial, and a modern set of issues that include divorce, mean girls, blended families, and all the drama that comes with tweenhood, Not If I Can Help It will both entertain and help readers find empathy for fellow classmates (or themselves!) who sometimes behave in unusual ways or have seemingly odd habits.
I was fortunate enough to read an ARC for #LitReviewCrew and this book will definitely be purchased for my class library. Fifth grader Willa kept her sensory processing disorder a secret from her best friend and the rest of her school. Sessions with her (inspiring) therapist were "math tutoring" sessions. No one knew that her father wore her socks in the morning to pre-stretch them or that she was wearing shorts in winter because the seams of pants were just too irritating. That is, until her father announces he is dating her best friend's mom. While everyone else thinks it is great that two best friends are now like sisters, Willa doesn't know how she is going to keep her secret safe and maintain her best friendship. Told in first person through Willa's perspective, this story has such a realistic look at life, school, friendships, divorce, remarriage, and SPD. Like Willa, I also love dogs, so the dog subplot was an added bonus. Ultimately, Willa learns to trust her friends and family enough to be honest about who she is. This is a character driven story so developing readers that like an action driven story might struggle a bit. Overall, it is a great empathy building story for 4th grade and up.
Reviewed in the United States on September 2, 2019
I love all of Carolyn Mackler's books and this was no exception. I learned so much about what life is like with Sensory Processing Disorder. Loved the characters and was sad to see the book end. Highly recommended!
Excellent book for kids, even high schoolers and family listening (the audiobook narration is also great).
Broad and universal themes around friendship and family. With fun and wisdom built in. Highly recommended.
And - if you have Sensory Processing Disorder or are the parent of a kid with SPD - this book is a must read. While it doesn’t over-focus on SPD, it so accurately represents life with SPD. Not sure there is any other fiction out there that addresses this so beautifully and accurately. And for people who have SPD but not Autism - just standalone SPD - it's rare to see this covered anywhere.
There is maybe nothing as helpful as seeing some of your own life experiences in another person’s story. And this one would extend to anyone who feels different in hard to define ways. So much appreciation to the author for bringing this story to life.