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The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty
Evelyn Bucknow is a girl who lives with her single, welfare mother in a small town in Kansas during the 1980s. Her mother, who acknowledges her share of mistakes while she continues to make them, is often scorned and ridiculed by family and neighbors. Evelyn attends a fundamentalist church with her conservative grandparents in the search for answers until she's put off by their narrow views and treatment of others who believe differently. A trip to the state science fair opens her eyes to the options given to those with more privilege in life. Laura Moriarity's debut novel could have been a predictable, sentimental novel, but she never lets Evelyn become cliché or act like an adult in a teenager's body. The Center of Everything is a story about the evolution of a girl into a woman as she tries to make sense of the world around her. It's received warm praise from most reviewers. The Denver Post says, "Moriarty has crafted a book that clearly hits but does not bludgeon the important points that span eight years, painting a picture that is lively and endearing."