OPERATION FINAL NOTICE, by Matthew Landis, Dial Books, Nov. 8, 2022, Hardcover, $18.99 (ages 8-12)
Best friends confront anxiety in Operation Final Notice, a thoughtful new middle-grade novel by Matthew Landis.
Eight hundred seventy-eight dollars. That’s how much Ronny needs by January 4th to make to keep his family’s only car from getting repossessed. Since a workplace injury disabled his dad and forced the family to move from their home into the apartment complex across the street, Ronny’s been learning all sorts of things — like what letters marked with Final Notice means and that banks can take cars away for being behind on payments.
His best friend Josefina Ramos is also counting down until the start of January when her life could change forever — that’s when she has her big cello audition at the prestigious music academy Maple Hill. Except she can’t play a solo performance without something disastrous happening and no one seems to hear her when she talks about how nervous she is.
As the countdown to the new year rolls ahead, Ronny and Jo learn what can happen to best-laid plans and how to depend on one another and their community when things get tough. —Synopsis provided by Dial Books
Told in alternating points of view, Operation Final Notice explores the complexities of anxiety and how it can manifest in ways ranging from financial issues to performing in public.
Ronny’s anxiety is fairly new. He went from a two-income, middle-class existence to one where money is so tight, his family could lose their only car. Ronny’s situation is not as unusual as we’d like to think, and lots of kids will immediately relate.
Ronny himself, is the kind of kid you’d want your kids to be friends with. He’s got a brightness to him that resonates even when he’s down. He’s clever and thoughtful and an all-around decent kid.
Josefina’s anxiety isn’t new. Her talent is amazing, but she can’t get past the hiccups that always come with her solos. No one seems to understand how bad things are. And she has trouble expressing how she feels. This type of anxiety, too, will quickly resonate with young readers.
Josefina is more introverted than Ronny. She’s quiet by nature. Though less dynamic than her friend, she’s also caring and understanding.
Operation Final Notice is set in the winter — making it the perfect read for this time of year — but its overall tone makes it a good choice no matter the season. It’s a heartwarming middle-grade novel that’s a good option for a large cross-section of readers.
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