When her father leaves and her Mother passes away soon after, Finch can’t help feeling abandoned. Now she’s stuck living with her stepfather and his new wife. They’re mostly nice, but they don’t believe the one true thing Finch knows herself: that she’s a girl, even though she was born in a boy’s body.
Thankfully, she had Maddy, a neighbor and animal rescuer who accepts her for who she it. Finch helps Maddy care for a menagerie of lost and lonely creatures, including a scared, stray dog who needs a family and home as much as Finch does. As she earns the dog’s trust, Finch realizes she must also learn to trust the people in her life—even if they are the last people she expected to love her and help her to be her true self.
“No matter their gender identity, young readers will identify with Finch’s struggle to find the relationships she needs to heal her grief and to be who she knows she is in a sometimes scary world. Finch discovers, in her struggle to find the support she needs after her loving mother dies, that forcing the connections we think we need can make us miss the special ones we already have. Finch’s story is Higher Power of Lucky meets Shiloh.”―Tim Capehart, children’s librarian and head of youth services at Dayton Metro Library, author of Shadowangel and Summer Stranger than Fiction, and two-time Newbery Medal selection committee member
Finch, the hero of Rorby's sixth book, is a plucky kid on the cusp of puberty, fighting to claim her identity before hormones lock her into manhood. Unfortunately, she is underage, and under the control of a hyper-masculine stepfather and a conservative stepmother. We watch as she figures her way out, with the help of an understanding neighbor and two brave friends.
There's a dog, too, with as tough a story as Finch's. And that's what I love about Rorby's books: if you help an animal, the good deed rebounds onto the giver. I expect that's the way it works in real life, too.
I laughed and I wept. I longed to take the dog Ben home and to take Finch clothes shopping. There are many children who feel different and maybe don't have a neighbor like Maddy or friends like Sherri and Gabe. But they have this book. Norma Watkins