Cover image for Itch
Title:
Itch
ISBN:
9780823445523
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
250 pages ; 22 cm.
Geographic Term:
Summary:
Isaac's sixth grade year gets off to a rough start. For one thing, a tornado tears the roof off the school cafeteria. His mother leaves on a two month business trip to China. And as always. . . . there's the itch. It comes out of nowhere. Idiopathic, which means no one knows what causes it. It starts small, but it spreads, and soon--it's everywhere. It's everything. It's why everyone calls him Itch--everyone except his best friend Sydney, the only one in all of Ohio who's always on his side, ever since he moved here. He's doing the best he can to get along--until everything goes wrong in the middle of a lunch swap. When Sydney collapses and an ambulance is called, Itch blames himself. And he's not the only one. When you have no friends at all, wouldn't you do anything--even something you know you shouldn't--to get them back? Drawing on her own experiences with idiopathic angioedema and food allergies, Polly Farquhar spins a tale of kids trying to balance the desire to be ordinary with the need to be authentic--allergies, itches, confusion and all.
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Summary

Summary

When everything around you is going wrong, how far would you go to fit in?

Isaac's sixth grade year gets off to a rough start.

For one thing, a tornado tears the roof off the school cafeteria. His mother leaves on a two month business trip to China. And as always. . . . there's the itch. It comes out of nowhere. Idiopathic, which means no one knows what causes it. It starts small, but it spreads, and soon--it's everywhere. It's everything. It's why everyone calls him Itch--everyone except his best friend Sydney, the only one in all of Ohio who's always on his side, ever since he moved here.

He's doing the best he can to get along--until everything goes wrong in the middle of a lunch swap. When Sydney collapses and an ambulance is called, Itch blames himself. And he's not the only one. When you have no friends at all, wouldn't you do anything--even something you know you shouldn't--to get them back?

Drawing on her own experiences with idiopathic angioedema and food allergies, Polly Farquhar spins a tale of kids trying to balance the desire to be ordinary with the need to be authentic--allergies, itches, confusion and all.

For everyone who's ever felt out of place, this debut novel set in the Ohio heartland is a warm, funny, and sometimes heartbreaking look at middle school misfits and misadventures. Whether you root for the Buckeyes or have no clue who they are, you'll be drawn into Itch's world immediately. This engaging debut is perfect for fans of See You in the Cosmos and Fish in a Tree .

A Junior Library Guild Selection


Author Notes

Polly Farquhar earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Ohio State University and her short stories have been published in literary magazines such as Prairie Schooner and the Mid-American Review . She is also the recipient of two Individual Artists Grants from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides with her husband and young daughters in the Columbus, Ohio area. Like Itch, Polly has an idiopathic angioedema and her daughters have managed life-threatening food allergies.


Reviews 2

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3--7--After barely escaping the gale-force winds of a tornado with his best friend Sydney, what else could possibly go wrong for sixth grader Isaac Fitch? Quit a lot, apparently. For starters, he still struggles to fit in at school and won't have his mom's sage advice, because she's off on a two-month business trip to China. Having moved to rural Ohio from New York, his father's lackluster interest in Ohio State football is an oddity in a town that oozes Buckeye pride on game day. To top it all off, his classmates call him "Itch" because he has a chronic itching condition called idiopathic angioedema which requires the use of an EpiPen in emergency situations. Isaac's job at Mr. Epple's pheasant farm normally brings him relief from his social acceptance issues, but even that becomes complicated when he's pressured to steal one of Mr. Epple's pheasants. Add to this a sandwich switch at lunch which causes Sydney to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance due to her food allergies, and you've got stress in overdrive. Isaac is desperate to do whatever it takes to set things right again. While Farquhar, an Ohio State alumni, lays it on heavy with football game day fever of the Midwest, her comedic skills keep the reader from being bogged down with football jargon and terminology. The author's lived experiences of managing her own idiopathic angioedema and her daughters' food allergies gives her firsthand knowledge with chronic illnesses such as the ones Isaac and Sydney have. VERDICT A heartwarming story that encompasses serious issues such as bullying, chronic illness, and peer pressure while navigating the awkward years of middle school. Fans of Gordon Korman's Restart and Jacqueline Davies's Nothing but Trouble should enjoy the symmetry of circumstances in this title.--Sabrina Carnesi, Crittenden Middle School, Newport News, VA


Kirkus Review

Isaac faces so many complications in sixth grade: bullying, loneliness, guilt, his mother's two-month business trip, tornadoesand the itch.Isaac's been trying to fit in since moving from New York State to rural Ohio. He's learned about football, for, despite his engineer parents' sports apathy, the Ohio State Buckeyes are a religion around this (seemingly predominantly white) town. Isaac even lets his classmates call him Itch, the nickname he earned because of his chronic condition. Isaac has what he calls "the itch" and what the doctors call "idiopathic angioedema." Sometimes, for no apparent reason, Isaac gets an uncontrollable itch and swells up with massive hives, making his hands "look like raw hamburger meat." Of course, Isaac's not the only kid in sixth grade with health troubles. His best friend has life-threatening food allergies, and so does the weird new kid; both need EpiPens. A deft touch with unusual details keeps the narrative from getting bogged down in medical drama: Isaac has an after-school job at a pheasant farm, a preoccupation with the texture of sandwiches, and a lucky peanut shell. Lyrical, pensive prose unexpectedly isn't a harbinger of tragedy; these kids have regular lives, shaped by their grave health concerns but not overwhelmed by them.This meditative #ownvoices read refreshingly treats chronic illness as just one of life's myriad complexities. (Fiction. 10-13) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Excerpts

Excerpts

CHAPTER 1 THE DAY THE tornado came through, Sydney, Nate, and I were out riding our bikes together, burning down the banks of the river and then splashing into the water. The river was wide, slow, and muddy. The grass in the yards had turned a crunchy kind of yellow and the corn in the field that stood between us and the gas station was taller than even Nate. It was August. School started next week. Sixth grade. Up at the top of the riverbank, Sydney rocked back and forth on her bike. "Ready?" Nate already stood in the river with his bike, the water up to the middle of the wheels. The water was low because it had been dry, which was good because when there was a lot of rain the river turned green and stuff grew on it. From farm runoff, my dad said. Nate yelled, "Go! Go! Go!" Sydney skidded down the steep bank--the closest thing to a hill around here--fighting with her handlebars as she tried to keep control through the mud. Her bike sent up a big spray as it hit the shallow water, and she shrieked. I followed her down and mud splattered all the way up to my face, and then the splash of water soaked my shirt. The day was the kind of hot that felt like it was sitting on you. The water wasn't much cooler, but at least it was wet. I didn't even think about itching. As we hauled our bikes up to go again, Sydney said, "I can't believe school starts next week." "Me neither," I said. "At least football is starting up," Nate said. He chucked a clump of mud at me, but it went wide and splattered on Sydney's arm instead. The handful of mud I threw at Nate missed him completely. Sydney laughed. "You guys will never play ball with arms like that." "Watch me," Nate said, and he hit my leg on his next throw. It had been a good summer. Sydney lived down the street from me and we'd been friends since I first moved to Ohio. We hung out a lot--riding bikes on the riverbank, playing video games and then cards on the front porch when her parents kicked us out of the house, striking at her brothers with water balloons when they were doing yard work. Usually it was just the two of us. Then Nate started showing up with his bike at the river. And sometimes when I was hanging out with Nate, we hung out with the other guys from school. Nate popped up the front wheel of his bike, tipping his head back to look at the sky, which was as dark as a bruise. "Let's go get slushies before it rains." At the gas station, we tracked in mud. "We're swamp creatures," Sydney said. She pushed back her hair with her muddy arm. It was coming out of her braid and fuzzed all around her face. There weren't any cars at the gas pumps. The day the tornado came through was also the first day of the Buckeye football preseason and the store was empty. "Shoot," Sydney said, heading to the counter. "The slushie machine is broken." She looked at the guy at the cash register. "For real? That's all I want. That's all I want in the whole world. A slushie." "There's ice cream in the back freezer." "I only do the slushies. Thanks anyway." I asked the guy if there had been any weather alerts, but he said he'd only been listening to the game. "Buckeyes up by fourteen already," he told us. That's how it is in Ohio. Everybody is always talking Ohio State University football. "It's going to be a blowout," Nate said, cracking his knuckles, and I guess Nate knew the guy because they started talking about the game and then Nate's grandparents. "Excuse me," I said, butting in, "but are you sure there isn't even a watch out? Or a thunderstorm warning?" All spring there had been tornadoes, the kind that busted out of the sky in the middle of the night. Invisible demons in the dark, roaring as they came to eat you, your house, your town. It got so bad everywhere that my grandmother, who lived in another state, followed our weather. Sometimes she called us before our town's tornado sirens even went off. She called if it was the middle of the night. The weather was so bad that no one minded. The wail of tornado sirens is hard to hear when you're inside a house, asleep, with the air conditioner running. "Maybe," the guy said. "Sorry about the slushies." Nate said, "We can find something at my grandmother's." We rode our bikes farther down the empty roads to Nate's grandmother's storage units--the Storage-U--and she had Popsicles in the freezer in her office. They were the kind in plastic tubes that you freeze at home. Sydney read the ingredients on the box. Big blue clouds rolled in, fat and heavy. It felt like before. We ate fast. The Storage-U was three long lines of cinder block buildings with red metal doors and three long gravel driveways. The office was a trailer near the road. Nate's grandmother was working inside. After a while, she banged on the window and waved us away, and I shoved the empty Popsicle wrapper into my pocket and climbed on my bike. "Go Bucks!" Nate, his teeth still around the plastic tube, peeled off toward his house with a wave, but I lived farther on, and Sydney a block beyond me. It was hot and soupy, but the wind that pushed in was cold. Once Sydney and I made it to our street, it took us three minutes to get to my house. I knew that because the tornado sirens started to wail, and they wail solid for three minutes before turning off and then starting up again. The sirens are loud. Piercing. The sound goes right through your body and down into your soul and rattles your earwax. My mother stood out on the steps of our front porch. My mom is neat and orderly, but right then she looked wild, with the wind blowing her hair so it covered her face. She yelled into the phone. "They're here! She's here. I've got them. I'll get her into our basement." She stopped us from hauling our bikes up onto the front porch and we left them clattering down to the sidewalk behind us. We kept on our helmets and wet shoes. In the living room, the Buckeyes played silently in a little rectangle in the corner of the television. The rest of the picture was nothing but weather guys. Let me tell you this: no one interrupts the Buckeyes. If the Buckeyes are silent, it can only be a matter of life or death. "If you live in the warning box on the map," the weather guy said, "you need to take shelter now." Excerpted from Itch by Polly Farquhar All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.