December 29, 2021

Code Name: Serendipity

By Amber Smith
Review by
Amber Smith’s middle grade novel offers a reassuring, emotional story about a girl and her family navigating an uncertain time in their lives.
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Have you ever had one of those days where absolutely everything seems to be going wrong and there’s nothing you can do to change it? In Amber Smith’s Code Name: Serendipity, 11-year-old Sadie has been feeling this way all year. Her best friend, Jude, moved to Utah, she’s made an enemy of the meanest girl at her bus stop, her older brother has started acting like “a total butthead,” and something seems off about her grandfather, who recently moved in with Sadie’s family.

Then one day, while walking through the woods behind her house, Sadie hears a small voice in her head calling for help. She follows it and discovers Dewey, a stray dog with whom she somehow has a telepathic connection. Sadie knows that Dewey is just as lost and lonely as she is, so with help from her Gramps, she sets out on her greatest mission ever: convincing her moms to let her adopt Dewey. What Sadie doesn’t know is that this mission will accomplish so much more than she could ever imagine.

Beneath Code Name: Serendipity’s straightforward prose and grounded, almost ordinary conflicts lies a powerful and emotional story. Sadie is a remarkably realistic protagonist, and the challenges she faces are, for the most part, the relatable stuff of everyday life. She’s just received a processing disorder diagnosis and is starting an individualized education plan at school. She’s adjusting to a long-distance friendship with Jude. And she’s worried about all the small ways that her beloved Gramps seems to be changing. Although Sadie and Dewey’s supernatural quest to win over Sadie’s moms propels the plot forward, Smith’s nuanced, reassuring portrayal of Sadie and her family as they navigate a period of uncertainty is what sets this book apart.

Code Name: Serendipity is a warm, appealing novel about a girl who learns that even though it might seem like everything is going wrong, a bad day—or year—can always change for the better.

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Code Name: Serendipity

Code Name: Serendipity

By Amber Smith
ISBN 9780593204917

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