Sean Griswold's Head, by Lindsey Leavitt
Sean Griswold's Head is a totally adorable book, and it manages to be adorable while still having depth and heart.
Over Christmas break, high school freshman Payton Gritas accidentally discovers that her father has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This fact is shocking and upsetting enough on its own; but Payton becomes even more angry when she finds out her entire family -- dad, mom, two older brothers -- has been keeping this information from her for 6 months. Payton's mom asks her to see the school guidance counselor to help her deal with this information, and hopefully get Payton talking to her family again. As her first exercise, the guidance counselor tells Payton to find a Focus Object, something to help her focus and organize her thoughts on. As Payton sits in her next class, she thinks about the assignment while staring at the thing she stares at every day -- the back of Sean Griswold's head. Payton has been sitting behind Sean Griswold in the alphabetical world of school since 3rd grade; but for all the time she has known Sean, she doesn't really know him.
I like pretty much everything about this book. The characters are realistic and quirky, but not too quirky. Leavitt deftly explores many different kinds of relationships in the book -- friendship, family, and first crushes. I really enjoy all the different relationships in the book, and how each one is a vital part of the book. The book is really about Payton going through a major event in her life, and how it effects all of her relationships. And while this book could easily have been trite and cheesy, it isn't.