Kevin Brockmeier first caught my attention with Illumination, his beautiful novel that uses a dash of magical realism to trace the seam of empathy and visibility in a world where we so often fail to see one another. Illumination stands out in the way that it is expansive and far reaching. So, I was curious to see what Brockmeier would do with a memoir that is so focused and concise—a memoir whose entire focus is on one year: Brockmeier’s experience of seventh grade. Brockmeier tells the story of his twelve-year old self in third person, he is Kevin, a kid “who cries too easily and laughs too easily” but “he is trying hard not to be him anymore, that kid.” What comes next is a chronicle of awareness, of awkward first kisses, and friends that turn enemies, and creativity squashed and encouraged and squashed again. Kevin is the kind of kid that knows awkwardness and loneliness and small victories while they are happening. His 12-year-old self is astute and awake enough to grasp exactly how harrowing growing up can be. So in the end, Brockmeier offers us in non-fiction what he does in fiction: universality. We share the feeling of frailty and of hope—of a life experienced in all its brave triumphs of faltering, humor, falling, landing, and holding on.