Mysti Murphy is not having a good 7th grade year. Her only friend, Anibal Gomez, has developed a crush on a Cheer Squad girl and has decided to change his image in an effort to be noticed. Part of Anibal's "social experiment" is to develop a hipster persona that he thinks his new crush will admire. To see if his experiment works, he needs to ditch Mysti. Anibal decides that he and Mysti can talk and text in the evenings and on weekends, but they must have NO contact during school. Mysti has no other friends, so she now sits alone at the Loser Island in the cafeteria at lunchtime. At home, Mysti is dealing with her family's secret, her mother's agoraphobia, which is getting worse. Mysti's mother hasn't left the house in 7 years. Her father is the one that buys the groceries, makes the hardware store and doctor appointment runs, and even buys clothes for Mysti and her younger sister. One afternoon, Mysti's father falls out of a tree onto the concrete driveway, headfirst. He's been in a coma for weeks. And now they are running out of food and other supplies. And instead of overcoming her fears to take care of her family, Mysti's mom is sinking into depression.
I loved author Karen Harrington's "Sure Signs of Crazy" and thought it would be a hard act to follow. However, as Courage for Beginners progressed (and not all that very far into it!) I decided that I liked it just as much. By the end of the book, with tears rolling down my cheeks, I decided I liked it better. Beautiful, just beautiful. I love her writing style, her choice of words, how completely into her main character's head the reader gets. I loved Mysti Murphy. What a resilient and courageous young girl!