Sorry for Your Loss by Joanne Levy (Orca, $10.95)
“I didn’t know what to say, so I did the hardest thing—I said nothing.” Loquacious Evie, age 12, narrates this novel of finding her way as the daughter of parents who run a funeral home. Evie’s routine chores include giving out packets of tissues at the door, vacuuming, and making sure the refrigerator in the “family room” is stocked with bottles of water.
One day, while her parents are discussing arrangements for the double funeral of a couple who died in an awful car accident, they ask Evie to look after the couple’s son, her age, who was injured in the crash. In spite of mean girls in her class who call her “corpse girl,” and her vow that she never wants a friend anyway, Evie’s persistent wish to be helpful to the boy breaks through the awkwardness of connecting to someone experiencing an unspeakable loss, and their relationship evolves into a surprising and deep friendship. This heartfelt and wise-about-grief novel is also, remarkably, a graceful and informative middle-grade guide to Jewish mourning customs.