Tiny In­fini­ties

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews -

J.H. Diehl, Chron­i­cle Books (MAY) Hard­cover $16.99 (352pp), 978-1-4521-6335-2

Alice is a strong, de­ter­mined young girl. As she starts her sum­mer va­ca­tion, she is in­tent on ac­com­plish­ing two things: get­ting her name on the record board at the lo­cal swim­ming pool, and get­ting her dad to move back home. Tiny In­fini­ties by J. H. Diehl is an ex­tra­or­di­nary and un­flinch­ingly honest book. Each char­ac­ter is flawed in some way, and each is try­ing to make things bet­ter. Alice’s par­ents are re­or­ga­niz­ing the fam­ily into sep­a­rate house­holds; they do not have the time or en­ergy to devote to their daugh­ter and her com­plaints. Alice is too young and too hurt to see that she can­not force her par­ents to be to­gether. Alice’s fa­ther’s new neigh­bors in­clude Piper, a child with a dis­abil­ity that no one can di­ag­nose. Piper’s par­ents need help that Alice wants to pro­vide. Alice’s new friend Har­riet is bril­liant but strange; she seems more in­ter­ested in the fire­flies in Alice’s back­yard than she does in Alice. As sum­mer pro­gresses, Alice finds joy in swim­ming and in tak­ing care of the neigh­bors, even though she is still per­son­ally un­happy. She learns that she has a strong back­stroke, she learns how fire­flies com­mu­ni­cate, and she learns to help Piper. Most im­por­tantly, she learns some sig­nif­i­cant lessons about truth and lies, about per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity, and about how in­di­vid­ual choices de­fine a life, shap­ing it in the space be­tween each mo­ment. Tiny In­fini­ties is both mean­ing­ful and mem­o­rable, and the lessons that Alice learns in one trans­for­ma­tive sum­mer are univer­sal. Diehl’s char­ac­ters will live on in read­ers’ minds long after fin­ish­ing the book.

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