I really like this book and I think it’s a good choice for reading lists about kids who have social problems, anxieties, or who come from troubled families.
One of the strongest appeal factors for me is its narration. I think that the author does a wonderful job of capturing how a child with social difficulties/problems experiences life in a way that is interesting and age appropriate for young readers. The story of Jason’s move to the group home as revealed through his thoughts and feelings is very natural and candid (reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, though definitely at a younger level). As a reader, I felt very connected to Jason as the story progressed to the point that I sympathized with his insecurities (especially when he wakes up to a different staff member at the group home–i.e. another new person to meet).
The story itself is very short. It seems that not much time passes before Jason has his first visit with his mother and his sister, during which they come to terms with one another’s problems. I’m not sure how realistic it is that Jason comes to grip with himself to the extent that he does–learning that he doesn’t have to fight to be liked, learning to settle in the group home, etc.–within the time frame of the book. However, I don’t think this detracts from the story as the reader is not intended to know Jason’s diagnosis to determine whether or not this is a realistic portrayal. Moreover, I think that the author does a good job of constructing a story with a discernible beginning, middle, and end from the difficult experiences of such a boy as Jason.
On an educational note, I think that this book opens the floor to some good group discussion about why we think the way we think (ex. why is Jason motivated to make friends the way he does? Why does he want to go back to his mother when she abuses him? How do we see people who are different, compared to how someone like Jason sees us?)