23310699 

Title: Crenshaw
Author: Katherine Applegate
Publisher: Feiwel And Friends, 2015. 245 pages.
Source: Library

Publisher's Summary:
Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There's no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.

Crenshaw is a cat. He's large, he's outspoken, and he's imaginary. He has come back into Jackson's life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

Beloved author Katherine Applegate proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary.
 

My Review:
As you might expect from the author of The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate plays with the boundaries between reality and imagination, and comes up with something unexpectedly moving. The book is written in Jackson's voice, a simple and spare style that nicely conveys the struggle between his head and his heart.

Jackson is a boy who believes very firmly in science and the probable. Even when he was 7 and Crenshaw first appeared, he didn't believe in him. Now that he's ten and about to start 5th grade, he really doesn't believe in imaginary friends. To the delight of the reader, Crenshaw doesn't seem to let that stop him. After all, he's a cat. Cats do what they want, though some of what Crenshaw wants is none too cat-like (because, he explains to Jackson, he's the result of Jackson's own interests, which were by no means limited to cats). 

So Jackson himself knows that Crenshaw isn't real, and no one else can see him, and yet. Things happen that need an agent, and Crenshaw is the only available agent. Neither Jackson nor the reader can ever be 100% sure that there's no such thing as imaginary friends. What Jackson is sure of is that he needs all the friends he can get, and it takes a nudge from the cat to make him say what has to be said to keep his best human friend. Telling Marisol about their money problems and incipient homelessness doesn't fix anything, but it allows her to be his friend, and she helps him loosen his grip on facts just a little.

My Recommendation:
A nice read, not too challenging, but one that deals gently with both homelessness and friendship. For ages 8 up.

FTC Disclosure: I checked Crenshaw out of my library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 



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