BECAUSE OF ANYA by Margaret Peterson Haddix
When Anya finds out she has a disease that will cause all of her hair to fall out, she is terrified that the kids in her class will notice. But the first day that she wears a wig, Keeley and her friends do notice and are left to wonder what is wrong. Does Anya have cancer? Is she going to die? As Anya and her parents struggle to come to terms with her disease, Keeley tries to figure out how she can be a good friend to Anya when she doesn’t know exactly what Anya needs.
This short novel tackles some difficult topics in a light way. Keeley learns to stand up for herself and be supportive, while Anya learns to accept herself and accept support from others. While the conflicts are simple and quickly resolved, the book may give young readers tools for talking about illness with their peers as characters model good communication and supportive friendship behaviors. The novel will appeal most to middle grade readers who enjoy realistic fiction.