Laura Moriarty’s The Center of Everything (2008) is a sensitive and moving portrait of a precocious girl and her single mom living just shy of real poverty in 1980s Kansas. Evelyn is a gifted 10-year-old but risks failing school because her home life is chaotic. Her mother, Tina, just can’t catch a lucky break. The characters and scenes felt very true and I hated to see it end.
The July 2003 Booklist review called this “a truly exceptional coming-of-age story, perfect for readers of all ages.” Readers who like women’s fiction, “domestic” fiction, and realistic family stories will love this novel.