Welcome to my stop on the Book Tour for The Science of Being Angry by Nicole Melleby. I have read every Nicole Melleby I have been able to find (except for the short story collection she co-edited – soon!) and I was so excited to be able read this early. Thank you to Nicole Melleby and Algonquin Young Readers for providing me with an eARC for this review.
Nicole Melleby, a Jersey native, is the author of highly praised middle-grade books, including the Lambda Literary finalist Hurricane Season and ALA Notable Children’s book How to Become a Planet. She lives with her wife and their cat, whose need for attention oddly aligns with Nicole’s writing schedule.
About The Book
Title: The Science of Being Angry
Author: Nicole Melleby
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publishing Date: May 10th, 2022
Page Length: 288
Age Range: Middle Grade
Rep: mental health, lesbian, sapphic relationship
Eleven-year-old Joey is angry. All the time. And she doesn’t understand why. She has two loving moms, a supportive older half brother, and, as a triplet, she’s never without company. Her life is good. But sometimes she loses her temper and lashes out, like the time she threw a soccer ball—hard—at a boy in gym class and bruised his collarbone. Or when jealousy made her push her (former) best friend (and crush), Layla, a little bit too roughly.
After a meltdown at Joey’s apartment building leads to her family’s eviction, Joey is desperate to figure out why she’s so mad. A new unit in science class makes her wonder if the reason is genetics. Does she lose control because of something she inherited from the donor her mothers chose?
Content Warning: bullying
Nicole once again impresses me with The Science of Being Angry. In every book written by Nicole you can expect LGBTQIA+ rep and mental health rep, and it’s here in this one too. We have lesbian moms (mom and mama), a blended family, and the main character has anger issues and a crush on her female best friend.
I loved our main character, Joey. She is strong and stubborn, but just wants to be loved, understood, and accepted. Throughout the book you feel for Joey and her feeling of being an outsider almost everywhere: at school, at home, at hockey. I loved that we explored the sense of belonging through genealogy and nature versus nurute (psychology major in me again loving it!). I think its great that nature and nurute were explored here, and at a realistic level that this age group would be able to connect to.
Joey also struggles with her sexuality throughout the book. We get to see the friendship and connection Joey has with her best friend/crush but is terrified of hurting her. This wasn’t the focus of the book and I was ok with that. It felt more like a nice extra piece of the story, something to route for.
The book also explore bullying, self worth, and therapy – all of which I believe was done well. Nicole was able to pull on my heart strings once again, despite my early thoughts of not being as connected with the characters as I was with those in Nicole’s others novels. And that would be my only negative to this book. I wasn’t feeling connected, as quickly, to Joey as I had expected. I was hoping there would be more definitely answers for Joey’s mental health as well. I know this is more realistic, but I had wanted just a little more (and extra hundred pages or so to explore it).
Overall I was very happy with this book and I will be recommending this to my library once again. If you’ve read any of Nicole’s other novels then you’ll want to read this one too. It’s a great book with great representation, especially for this age group.