Any description of this book makes it sound so contrived--a veritable rainbow of characters seemingly chosen to make a "multicultural novel." But Holly Goldberg Sloan fleshes out each character is such a believable way that you'll soon realize this isn't an "add one of each race/culture" book.
Willow Chance is a gifted 12 year old misfit, who adores her adoptive family, along with plants, diseases and the number 7. She identifies herself as a person of color, though so fleetingly that a reader may skim over it.
After her parents are killed in a car accident, Willow is taken in by her friend Mai, who lives with her mother and troubled brother. Mai's mother is Vietnamese, and Mai and her brother are of Vietnamese, African American and Mexican descent.
Willow's first person narration of her grief and recovery are interspersed with third person chapters about the other main characters. Her story of moving through tragedy and building and belonging to a new family has resonated with my students, who eagerly have passed this book on to their friends. Appropriate for grades 6 and up, and more popular with girls than boys, it's a book with a solid redemptive ending that may require a tissue or two! In my library, it's one of those books that gets walked to my desk by two girls--one who is returning it, and her friend who wants to check it out.