Reviewed by Mechele R. Dillard for TeensReadToo.com
Nadia really does want to play with the other kids. She is tired of playing with paper dolls. But her overprotective mother will not allow her to do anything that will put her fragile heart at risk; i.e. anything that could help her make real friends--running, jumping, rolling around on the forbidden sawdust pile. Besides, the paper dolls have never laughed at her. They have never pointed at her or called her "the sick girl." Still, as she plays with her dolls, despite her mother's constant warnings to the contrary, it occurs to Nadia that she does not wish to allow fear to dominate her life: "Paper dolls. Paper books. Paper cards. Paper life."
So, Nadia devises a plan. She will become an actress. She will secure the lead in the sixth-grade play, and then she will be someone everyone will want to know. She won't tell her mother, of course, and by the time Mrs. Riley knows that the little white lies she has told to get the role are, well, not the complete story, no one will be angry with her because she will have shown them all that she does indeed have value beyond being a source of constant worry for her mother and a target for teasing for the kids at school.
Arrington does an excellent job of exploring the problems that arise when a parent becomes overprotective of a child with a medical condition. Additionally, the unexpected twist she includes is a welcome breath of fresh air in this reviewer's opinion. It is entirely credible, but keeps the storyline from becoming predictable. Nadia's quest to be more than just "the sick girl" becomes a journey for both her and her mother, and it is one that the reader will be glad she has taken, as well.