Review: The 10 P.M. Question

Review: The 10 P.M. QuestionThe 10 P.M. Question by Kate De Goldi
Published by Candlewick on September 28, 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Humor
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

Worry-prone Frankie keeps his family secret under control — until a bold, inquisitive girl enters his life — in this warm, witty, and captivating YA novel.

Twelve-year-old Frankie Parsons is a talented kid with a quirky family, a best friend named Gigs, and a voice of anxiety constantly nibbling in his head: Could that kidney-shaped spot on his chest be a galloping cancer? Are the smoke alarm batteries flat? Has his cat, The Fat Controller, given them all worms? Only Ma, who never leaves home, takes Frankie’s worries seriously. But then, it is Ma who is the cause of the most troubling question of all, the one Frankie can never bring himself to ask. When a new girl arrives at school — a daring free spirit with unavoidable questions of her own — Frankie’s carefully guarded world begins to unravel, leading him to a painful confrontation with the ultimate 10 p.m. question. Deftly told with humor, poignancy, and an endearing cast of characters, The 10 P.M. Question will touch everyone who has ever felt set apart.

I love love loved this book. Frankie is such an awesome narrator. He is young, which usually loses my interest, but incredibly clever and real. Being a worrier myself, I totally found myself rooting for him and hoping he would find a way to deal. The lists that he makes to calm himself down are something I can relate to as well. My lists aren’t mental like his, but I do compulsively keep track of certain things (mostly to do with reading). I also sometimes write lists just for the sheer pleasure and soothingness of creating them.

Frankie is not the only character who is well-drawn. The whole cast feels completely real and full of life, from the big fat aunts to the dad called Uncle George by everyone (even though he’s not an uncle) to the family cat (The Fat Controller) to the teacher at Frankie’s school. Everyone has their own crazy quirks and I could connect with them all.

Part of the reason the story is so successful, despite having a rather contemplative plot, is the focus on the relationships between family and friends. De Goldi has captured how a family can be full of love and still be dysfunctional. While the story does have a bit of an overarching plot, it’s not really what you think it is at the beginning and the resolution isn’t momentous. This is a story of Frankie’s personal journey to learn to understand himself and his family.

Everyone should read this. It is absolutely delightful! Fans of A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time should definitely check this out.

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