Willa has Sensory Processing Disorder, which means she likes things to be and feel a certain way – her socks, her clothes, her room, even her food – and she hates change. She already has to face the fact that she will be moving to Middle School very soon, but she is extremely upset to find out her Dad’s big news… that he has been secretly dating her best friend Ruby’s Mum! This is going to mean a huge change to her life, both at home and at school and Willa is determined not to let this happen.
Not If I Can Help It sensitively deals with many of the issues that children face at this time in their lives, with a warm and humorous slant.
Although set in an American school and talking of the move from Elementary to Middle School, it is easily identifiable as being at a similar age to when British children move from Primary to Secondary schools and so covers the same feelings of unease and anxiety that occur for children across the world at the thought of moving on from familiar environments into the unknown.
Willa loves her best friend, Ruby, but also doesn’t want her to know how much her SPD affects her home life and she is worried that if things progress with their parents, then all of her carefully hidden secrets will be out.
Carolyn Mackler cleverly weaves many other concerns that children of this age often face today – divorce, blended families, friendship issues – within a story that will appeal to readers of all ages. Her own experiences of a child with Sensory Processing Disorder enables her to authentically and empathetically share Willa’s thoughts with us, as she has to come to terms with the changes happening in her life and ultimately decide how she will accept her new situation.