CM Reviews Betty Jane Hegerat's Odd One Out

By Karen Boyd

**½ /4

Rufus (Roof) Peters, 15, is one of four siblings, two sets of twins. While this may be exceptional, it is the only part of Roof’s life that is. He isn’t the eldest, as his minutes older sister is happy to point out. In fact, she outshines him at everything. Roof’s main goals are to escape the French language summer exchange and hopefully figure out these new feelings for his friend Zoe. When a mysterious stranger appears at the door, Roof finds that he does have a gift. He is able to negotiate the family dynamics, support the people he loves, and find his voice.

Odd One Out is a surprisingly gentle story. Surprising, because it is essentially a story of a young pregnancy that results in the father abandoning the mother and reneging on accepting responsibility and support of the baby. These are difficult topics to touch on in a young adult novel, and it is Hegerat’s writing of Roof that provides the opportunity for gentleness. The mysterious stranger from Mexico turns out to be Roof’s half-sister. She is his father’s daughter with his high school girlfriend. Roof seems to be the only one that can consider everyone’s perspective. His mother and sister are angry, his father is bewildered, and the younger twins are unaware. Roof is responsible, empathetic, and kind. He is a character that is an excellent role model for young boys.

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