Some people can do their homework. Some people get to have crushes on boys. Some people have other things they've got to do.
Seventh-grader Zoey has her hands full as she takes care of her much younger siblings after school every day while her mom works her shift at the pizza parlor. Not that her mom seems to appreciate it. At least there's Lenny, her mom's boyfriend―they all get to live in his nice, clean trailer. At school, Zoey tries to stay under the radar. Zoey thinks how much easier everything would be if she were an octopus: eight arms to do eight things at once. Incredible camouflage ability and steady, unblinking vision. Powerful protective defenses. Unfortunately, she's not totally invisible, and one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club. Even though Zoey resists participating, debate ultimately leads her to see things in a new way. Can Zoey find the courage to speak up, even if it means risking the most stable home she's ever had?
Ann Braden writes books about kids struggling to find their voice amidst the realities of life. Ann founded GunSenseVT, a grassroots group focused on championing the common ground on the issue of guns in Vermont, which recently helped pass landmark gun violence prevention legislation. She also founded the Local Love Brigade, which now has chapters all over the country sending love postcards to those who are facing hate. Ann is a former middle school teacher and the co-host of the children’s book podcast, “Lifelines: Books that Bridge the Divide,” along with Pakistani American author Saadia Faruqi. Ann lives in southern Vermont with her husband, two children, and two insatiable cats named Boomer and Justice.