Just Shy Of Ordinary

A thirteen-year-old nonbinary kid discovers that life doesn’t always go according to plan, especially when they start public school for the first time, in this heartfelt middle grade novel about family, friendship, LGBTQIA+ identity, and Jewish heritage, perfect for fans of The List of Things That Will Not Change and Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World.

Thirteen-year-old Shai is an expert problem-solver. There’s never been something they couldn’t research and figure out on their own. But there’s one thing Shai hasn’t been able to logic their way through: picking at the hair on their arms.

Ever since their mom lost her job, the two had to move in with family friends, and the world went into pandemic lockdown, Shai’s been unable to control their picking. Now, as the difficult times recede and everyone begins to discover their “new normal,” Shai’s hoping the stress that caused their picking will end, too.

After reading that a routine can reduce anxiety, Shai makes a plan to create a brand-new normal for themself that includes going to public school. But when their academic evaluation places them into 9th grade instead of 8th, it sets off a chain of events that veer off the path Shai had prepared for, encouraging Shai to learn how to accept life’s twists and turns, especially when you can’t plan for them.

JUST SHY OF ORDINARY releases on January 30, 2024 in hardcover and audiobook. Preorder here. You can add it on Goodreads here.

Praise for Just Shy of Ordinary

⭐️ “Via sensitive depictions of Shai’s skin picking, as well as sincere prose that yields richly developed characters, relationships, and interactions, Sass captures the tension and dread of grappling with a hidden illness during a tumultuous transition … [A] luminous read.”

 Publishers Weekly, starred review