Every Single Second has complex characters, several plots lines that intertwine, and a number of contemporary themes suited for Junior and Senior High school readers.
Nella and Angela have been friends since Kindergarten and Angela’s older brother, Anthony, has been like a big brother to Nella, the oldest and only girl in a family of five siblings. By Grade 6, things begin to go sideways as Angela’s family disintegrates – her mother leaves and her father’s becomes more reclusive as his post-traumatic stress syndrome escalates. Nella abandons Angela for a new friend, Clem, who is fascinated with the addition of a single second to the time clock and wants to record that once-in-a-lifetime event with Nella. Time and change are integral themes as the story unfolds. Nella experiences confused loyalties, discovers a family secret, and lives through the tragedy of Anthony’s unintentional shooting of an unarmed Black neighbour. Nella finally finds her way, through the example and the indomitable spirit of her grandmother’s love and caring. These are strong characters with complicated relationships. The story is told in alternating chapters of “then” and “now” that reveal the back-story juxtaposed with the present complications. The complex plots, believable characters and multiple themes (e.g. family, peer relationships, loyalty, tragedy, compassion, and change) will engage sophisticated mature readers of realistic fiction.