The Second Life of Abigail Walker

“Dowell masterfully handles the hot button topic of bullying and will have readers contemplating the pettiness and self-loathing that supports it… A timely and heartening book for today’s middle schoolers.” (Booklist)

Seventeen pounds. That’s the difference between Abigail Walker and Kristen Gorzca. Between chubby and slim, between teased and taunting. Abby is fine with her body and sick of seventeen pounds making her miserable, so she speaks out against Kristen and her groupies — and becomes officially unpopular. Embracing her new status, Abby heads to an abandoned lot across the street and crosses an unfamiliar stream that leads her to a boy who’s as different as they come.

“What’s wonderful is how Dowell, the author of several beloved books for tweens and teenagers including the Edgar-winning ‘Dovey Coe,’ gracefully draws the many concentric circles of Abby’s life.” —The New York Times Book Review


Dowell (Ten Miles Past Normal) creates a sympathetic and honest heroine with a flair for drama, humor, and creativity, and she resists a tidy ending in a novel that feels both timeless and entirely of-the-moment. —Publisher’s Weekly, starred review


As she did in The Secret Language of Girls (2004) and its sequel, The Kind of Friends We Used to Be (2009), Dowell weaves themes of friendship and personal growth into a rich and complex narrative. A third story strand follows the desert fox Abby meets in the overgrown lot across the street from her house, adding a fantasy element and further connections. Like the fox in the Wendell Barry epigraph, some of Abby’s tracks are in the wrong direction. But her resurrection is satisfying. Middle school mean girls are not uncommon, in fiction or in life, but seldom has an author so successfully defeated them without leaving her protagonist or her reader feeling a little bit mean herself. —Kirkus Reviews, starred review