Book Review: Just Do This One Thing for Me by Laura Zimmermann
Hilarious, heartbreaking, and sneaky suspenseful, Just Do This One Thing for Me is a timely novel about a rule-following daughter trying to hold her family together after her scammer mother disappears.
“Just do this one thing for me.” Drew’s mother says it more often than good morning. Heidi Hill has been juggling shady side hustles for all of Drew’s seventeen years, and Drew knows that “one thing” really means all the necessary things her mother thinks are boring, including taking care of her fifteen-year-old sister and eight-year-old brother. In fact, Drew is the closest thing to a responsible adult they’ve ever known. When their mother disappears on the way to a New Year’s Eve concert in Mexico and her schemes start unraveling, Drew is faced with a choice: Follow the rules, do the responsible thing, and walk away—alone—from her mother’s mess. Or hope the weather stays cold, keep the cons going, and just maybe hold her family together.
Listen. The “one thing” that Drew and her sister ultimately have to do is not necessarily for their mother, but for themselves. And it’s a doozy. I don’t even want to tell you what it is, because sometimes the summary gives away a big plot point and that’s fine, but if it doesn’t, I don’t really want to either. All I will say is that Drew has been the one to keep the family going for a long time and now she has to step into that role in a way she never could have dreamed of.
Drew’s mother is best described as completely irresponsible, constantly running schemes, and obsessed with Justin Timberlake. She’s not exactly a great mom. In fact, she might be a terrible mom. Drew is the one to get her siblings up for school, make sure they’re fed, keep them organized. She also basically has to parent her mother. Drew and her sister share a dad, who is only barely in the picture, and their little brother has a different dad, who is absolutely not involved in his life. So it’s up to Drew to be the parent—to be all the parents. Is that a fair thing to ask of a senior in high school? Absolutely not. Do we all know plenty of kids who have unfortunately had to do the bulk of the parenting in their life? Yep. And when their mom takes off to Mexico for a JT concert, they figure she’ll be back in a week or so, and things will continue in the messy but typical way they always have. But there’s a twist coming. And it’s a big one. Drew and her siblings will have to call on all their skills for self-reliance, lying, scamming, and evasion to pull off the biggest scheme in their lives. Is it entirely believable? I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t care. It’s a great story, the kind that made me cringe repeatedly as they made bonkers choices and cheer when those choices paid off. Hand this one to readers who like dark humor and can handle grim situations. A really great story of the lengths one teen will go to to help keep her family together. Somehow Zimmermann makes this story of neglect as hilarious as it is heartbreaking. A stellar read.
Review copy courtesy of the publisher
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 08/22/2023
Age Range: 14 – 17 Years
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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