I Wanna Be Your Shoebox by Cristina Garcia -
Yumi Ruiz-Hirsh faces a lot of changes in her thirteenth year. Her beloved grandfather, Saul Hirsch, has been diagnosed with cancer. Her mother, poet and professor Silvia Ruiz, has finally found the man she wants to marry. Yumi's chronically depressed father, a piano tuner and aspiring punk rocker, and her grandmother, Hiroko, are the only stable things in her life. At school, the orchestra has been cut from the budget and Yumi spearheads a campaign to raise money and awareness for the orchestra. And Yumi has no one to surf with!
There is almost too much going on in this book. The book would have been just as absorbing - maybe even a little easier to get through - without the move from the house to the apartment, or the drama around Ms. Ruiz's impending wedding.
Two things kept my attention - Yumi's attempt to record her grandfather's life story and the musical subplot. Saul's voice contrasts with Yumi's urgency. The choice to use classic punk rock songs (and one of her Dad's original songs) for the orchestra's fund-raising concert was a clever idea. Yumi makes a lot of things happen for a lot of people in this book.
Out of five stars, I'd give this book a solid 3 1/2 stars. It's a fun read, a bit too ambitious, but with elements to appeal to most middle grade readers. I suggest this book for grades 5 through 8.