Jodi Baxter and her Chicago-based Yada Yada Prayer Group tackle ticklish challenges around their one-year anniversary. In her third grade class, Jodi struggles to help angry Hakim, the little brother of the boy she struck and killed in an accident.

Then Jodi's least favorite Yada Yada moves into the apartment above her family, her favorite Yada Yada finds romance, the weakest Yada Yada comes into money and the woman who robbed the Yada Yadas at knifepoint in Jodi's house might come up for parole. The group must "get real" with themselves and each other, or they may fall apart.

Jackson piles on the grins and the gulps in this very real rendition of life as it can hit us all. Jodi's first-person voice rings clear and true, yet the diversity among the Yada Yadas is enhanced rather than obscured by this—a tribute to the author's expertise. (Apr., 400 pp., $13.99)
Reviewed by: 
Jill Elizabeth Nelson