The Benefits of Being an Octopus

"This is a compassionate look at poverty, hard choices, and defending one's right to be treated humanely. A very fine first novel, written with a deft hand." Newbery Medal Winner, Karen Hesse

Some people can do their homework. Some people get to have crushes on boys. Some people have other things theyve got to do.
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Seventh-grader Zoey has her hands full as she takes care of her much younger siblings after school every day while her mom works her shift at the pizza parlor. Not that her mom seems to appreciate it. At least theres Lenny, her moms boyfriendthey all get to live in his nice, clean trailer.

At school, Zoey tries to stay under the radar. Her only friend Fuchsia has her own issues, and since they're in an entirely different world than the rich kids, its best if no one notices them.

Zoey thinks how much easier everything would be if she were an octopus: eight arms to do eight things at once. Incredible camouflage ability and steady, unblinking vision. Powerful protective defenses.

Unfortunately, shes not totally invisible, and one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club. Even though Zoey resists participating, debate ultimately leads her to see things in a new way: her moms relationship with Lenny, Fuchsias situation, and her own place in this town of people who think theyre better than her. Can Zoey find the courage to speak up, even if it means risking the most stable home shes ever had

This moving debut novel explores the cultural divides around class and the gun debate through the eyes of one girl, living on the edges of society, trying to find her way forward.

The Benefits of Being an Octopus