Published by Scholastic Press on September 27th 2016
It's not easy being Claire. (Really.)Claire's life is a joke . . . but she's not laughing. While her friends seem to be leaping forward, she's dancing in the same place. The mean girls at school are living up to their mean name, and there's a boy, Ryder, who's just as bad, if not worse. And at home, nobody's really listening to her -- if anything, they seem to be more in on the joke than she is.Then into all of this (not-very-funny-to-Claire) comedy comes something intense and tragic -- while her dad is talking to her at the kitchen table, he falls over with a medical emergency. Suddenly the joke has become very serious -- and the only way Claire, her family, and her friends are going to get through it is if they can find a way to make it funny again.
I don’t know how, but Jordan Sonnenblick has the mind of a 13-year-old girl. In Falling Over Sideways, eighth grader Claire has a lot going on. Her friends are skipping ahead of her in dance, her nemesis is taunting her with his first chair saxophone status, her science teacher has it in for the entire class, the mean girl and the class bully both have it out for her, and now her dad, of all people, her understanding, funny, healthy dad, has had a stroke. In this both heartrending and heartwarming but mostly funny book Claire navigates her life with anything but aplomb, but a lot of reality. While this book skews younger than I would normally read, I really enjoyed Claire’s offbeat, imaginative, and comical take on life as a middle schooler.
Memorable Falling Over Sideways Quote:
“Obviously, everything about school was designed by men, and periods prove it. First of all, if guys got periods, I guarantee that our marching-band pants wouldn’t be thin or white. No, they would be thick, deep-black rubber fishing waders with BIOHAZARD symbols all over them. Plus three layers of mesh lining inside, two outer layers of additional opaque plastic wrap, and quite possibly a morphine dispenser attached for bad cramp days. There would be several cots at the back of each classroom for boys who were experiencing any kind of period-related symptoms, and you wouldn’t be able to spit in the hallway without hitting three Advil dispensers…
And if you need to go to the bathroom to deal with a tampon or pad? You need to be a freaking ninja. Think about it: You’re not allowed to carry your purse around the school, because it probably violates some kind of Homeland Security anti-school-shooting law. But how are you supposed to smuggle your feminine hygiene products to the restroom with out any kind of bag? Tape them to your leg? Hide them behind a loose tile in advance? It’s insane. One thing’s for sure: By the time I got to both the bathroom and the nurse that first day, and got all my girl business taken care of, I was ready to go full-out Ninja on somebody. Or I would have been, if not for the cramps.”