Cordelia Jensen & Laurie Morrison’s Every Shiny Thing shifts between verse and prose as well as between the point-of-view of Lauren, a wealthy girl whose beloved brother moves to a therapeutic boarding school for teenagers on the autism spectrum, and Sierra, a girl whose experienced poverty and is currently placed in a foster home in Lauren’s neighborhood. The girls attend the same private Quaker school and have an at times awkward and uneven but ultimately caring friendship. As Lauren’s friendship with Sierra develops, she is drifting away from her best friend of many years.
Lauren is beginning to develop a sense of social justice and is distressed to learn many kids on the autism spectrum don’t receive the kind of care her brother does because they can’t afford it. Lauren decides to even the playing field by selling “found” objects (including jewelry) to help remedy the social inequalities she sees around her. The stakes are heightened when she brings Sierra into her scheme.
The book is quite compelling. I particularly appreciated the parts of the story told from Sierra’s point-of-view. She has lived a complicated life and the authors, Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison, do a lovely job capturing the temporality and contingency of foster care and overall lack of stability Sierra has experienced growing up.
I recommend this book to advanced middle-grade readers and young adult readers interested in stories about friendship, social justice, autism, social class, and foster care. Jensen and Morrison handle these issues very well!