Albie has always been an almost child. He often doesn’t get things correct (like math or spelling) but he can almost do it. He is ten and he’s going to starting a new school and he’ll have a new nanny. He’d not very excited about the new nanny part – he thinks he’s too old for one – but he hopes his new school will be better than his last one. It doesn’t take long, however, for the class bully to target Albie and another student in the class, Betsy. Together at the bottom of the class social ladder, Albie and Betsy become friends.
Things aren’t always great at home, either. While Albie comes to love Calista, his new nanny, his parents aren’t always easy. They are constantly disappointed that Albie doesn’t do as well as they expect in school, and their expectations are sometimes unreasonable.
But then the bully finds out that Albie’s best friend is a reality tv star, and suddenly Albie is “cool.” While Albie’s position in the class has sky-rocketed, Betsy’s is still at the bottom. Albie does what he can to tell Betsy how to become popular, and he doesn’t understand why Betsy doesn’t seem to appreciate his efforts. Inevitably, things fall apart for Albie and he has to realize that if life isn’t going to be absolutely perfect for him, it might can be absolutely almost – and that’s good enough.
While I was at Nerdcamp Michigan early this month, I listened to people rave about this book, so as soon as I got home I requested it from my public library. I really enjoyed it. I cannot think of many books about children who struggle like Albie, but they are much needed. Albie is like so many children that I teach – he does his best but somehow that is never good enough. I became really frustrated with his parents during the book – high expectations are fine but their expectations were unreasonable for Albie’s abilities and I really wished they would put forth the effort to work with him one-on-one so that they could see that he was really trying to do well. I think at the end they got it, and that they loved Albie for who he was. My favorite quote in the book was one of his dad’s, “I think the hard thing for you, Albie, is not going to be getting what you want in life, but figuring out what that is. Once you know what you want – really, truly – I know you’ll get it.”