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A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection

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Life in the Balance

Veronica struggles to balance softball, friends, and family turmoil in this new honest and heartfelt middle grade novel by Jen Petro-Roy, Life in the Balance.

Veronica Conway has been looking forward to trying out for the All-Star softball team for years. She's practically been playing the game since she was a baby. She should have this tryout on lock.

Except right before tryouts, Veronica’s mom announces that she’s entering rehab for alcoholism, and her dad tells her that they may not be able to afford the fees needed to be on the team.

Veronica decides to enter the town talent show in an effort to make her own money, but along the way discovers a new hobby that leads her to doubt her feelings for the game she thought she loved so much.

Is her mom the only one learning balance, or can Veronica find a way to discover what she really wants to do with her life?

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Trade Reviews


"This marvelous middle grade novel provides an honest depiction of alcoholism and addiction...Veronica’s internal dialogue is authentic, and though adults and friends offer compassion and wisdom, Veronica ultimately chooses her own path toward happiness. VERDICT: A first purchase. Hand this to readers who don’t mind a few tears on their way to a happy ending." ―School Library Journal, Starred Review 

"Petro-Roy, whose Good Enough portrays a 12-year-old at a treatment center for anorexia, writes with clarity and avoids suggesting that alcoholism is easy to manage or to live with. Given that Veronica's a sixth-grader whose family is in distress, it seems natural that friendship lies at the heart of this very readable story." ―Booklist

"Petro-Roy's novel is heartfelt, and the reactions of mother, father, daughter, and neglected friend are realistic...There's still plenty of honesty here...and much to cheer for as Veronica settles into understanding her family challenge and how to meet it." ―Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Advance Praise for Life in the Balance

"A vitally important story about the gold and light we find in the broken places...Whatever your family dynamics, whether your interests lie on the ball field or the stage, you'll find compassion singing through every page of this beautiful book."

                                                                    -Sarah Allen, author of What Stars are Made Of

“Important and honest, Life in the Balance explores the subject of alcoholism with Petro-Roy’s signature tender touch...A must-read.”

                                                                    -Ali Standish, author of The Ethan I Was Before


“A deep and honest novel about the uncertainty and strength that come with growing up. Readers will find it impossible not to root for Veronica.” 

                                                                   -Alyson Gerber, author of Braced and Focused


“A beautiful story that expertly balances heartbreak with hope.”

                                                                  -Stacy McAnulty, author of The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl

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