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Still a Work in Progress
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Still a Work in Progress

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  478 ratings  ·  125 reviews
In a return to middle-grade fiction, master of perspectives Jo Knowles depicts a younger sibling struggling to maintain his everyday life while coping with his sister’s secret struggle.

Noah is just trying to make it through seventh grade. The girls are confusing, the homework is boring, and even his friends are starting to bug him. Not to mention that his older sister, Emm
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by Candlewick Press
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really liked it 4.00  · 
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 ·  478 ratings  ·  125 reviews

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Lisa Vegan
There is no information here that isn’t in the book description, but for people who like to go into books knowing nothing, I’ve put the majority of this review in spoiler tags, even though I care a great deal about spoiler tags when they’re warranted and I don’t really think they are here, but just in case.

I feel badly giving this book only 3 stars, and honestly maybe only 2 stars. It’s a very good book. I’d say as a 10-11 year old I might have given it 4 stars. It’s just one of those middle g
Gary Anderson
Jul 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Still A Work in Progress, the seventh novel from Jo Knowles, begins with Noah and his middle school crowd caught up in friendship, families, who-likes-who, and smelly stuff. It’s all charming in a Wonder Years kind of way. But after a mention or two of the Thing That Happened, we know that all is not right and something is lurking.

Noah’s older sister Emma is militantly vegan. Their parents tread lightly where Emma’s eating is concerned. Noah has no choice but to go along, but his mind is mostly
Oct 12, 2016 rated it liked it

3.5 Stars

I haven’t read Jo Knowles in a long time, but she has a couple of books that left quite a mark on me—especially Jumping Off Swings. So when I spotted her new book, I scooped it up and starting reading before I even left the library!

Still a Work in Progress has a little of everything from fun to heartache. But what I really want to emphasize and shout huge love about here are her characters. Ms. Knowles has a way of making all the characters—EVERY single one—come to life. Teachers, kids,
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What I am always amazed by when I read a book by Jo Knowles is her ability to tell the truth about our world, and this book once again fits this description. Jo has a way of making her characters ones that are so real that you can imagine them walking into a school and know exactly which kids they’d hang out with. Noah and his friends could definitely be middle school students at my school. Her stories always seem to includ
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Another thought-provoking, touching and heart-breaking novel by Jo Knowles. She is a master in bringing wonderful characters to life, in making tough issues accessible to young readers, in letting readers deeply connect and empathize with the characters of her stories, in letting us laugh and cry with them, having our hearts broken and then finding new hope. Jo Knowles says about her book: "Fearing that someone you love could relapse into a dangerous health situation is difficult and exhausting. ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Eighth-grader Noah deals with friend troubles, school troubles, and girl troubles. None of these compare, however, to the Thing We Don't Talk About, his older sister's eating disorder. The family dealt with it one time, and now, if they just don't talk about, maybe it will go away.

Noah is a clever, cheerful fellow and I loved watching him deal with his friends and school and potential girlfriends in a clever and cheerful way. The story sobers up when his family finally realizes that his sister i
I had the opportunity to read a digital ARC (NetGalley) of this middle grade realistic fiction novel by Jo Knowles in exchange for this review. I really enjoyed this book and am going to be anxious to see how the students in my class like it. This book tells the story of a seventh grade boy, Noah, who is dealing with all of the stuff of middle school: friends, budding romance, teachers, homework, parents, etc. On top of all of that, his older sister, Emma, is at the center of a family crisis tha ...more
Beth Honeycutt
Jun 23, 2016 rated it liked it
This is definitely 3.5 stars. It is hard for me to give a Jo Knowles' book only 3.5 stars. I usually love everything she writes - especially See You at Harry's. I will still book talk it with students and share it soon.
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Not surprisingly, Jo Knowles has written another great book! Noah is a character that is easy to care about and feel for. His view of the world is authentic and his love for his family is very real. This novel reminded me how truly awful and stressful it was to be a middle schooler! Jo created an environment that is specific to Noah, but general enough that everyone who has been into a middle school can relate to. His emotions, the problems he faces and his reactions are spot on. I specifically ...more
Kelly Hager
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Noah's life is completely changing. All at once, his friends start dating or talking about dating. That'd be bad enough, but his older sister may be getting sick again.

I think this may be Jo Knowles' best yet. Noah's confusion and anxiety is perfectly captured. I could imagine every character and scene in this novel, and everything broke my heart and fixed it and broke it again.

Highly recommended.
Joy Kirr
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This one cuts right to the chase - the reader knows there’s an issue with Noah’s older sister, Emma. The oh-so-complicated feelings that emanate from him regarding his sister’s eating disorder are so raw and real. I’m thankful Jo Knowles put Noah in such a safe spot - a great school with teachers and friends who care, along with a therapy (hairless) cat for good measure.
Marcus Trent
I love that you are waiting anxiously to know about "the thing we don't talk about" while going through Noah's daily life.
Michelle (Pink Polka Dot Books)
Apr 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tbr-2016
I don't read a lot of older MG, but this one I LOVED as hard as my favorite YAs. The ending was a little forced, but overall I loved reading about Noah and his 2 best friends, their quirky school, and of course Curly.

I don't really read older MG, but when I saw that Jo Knowles had a new book I really wanted to read it no matter what age group it involved. What I learned was, I LOVE reading about MG boys!! If they're all like Noah, Ryan, and Sam, I could read about them non-stop. They're so funn
Jun 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Summary: An upper-middle-grades story about a boy whose sister has a severe eating disorder relapse. Zippy dialogue and developed pet characters, and a message of working towards a better tomorrow make the overall tenor of this book heartfelt and optimistic rather than depressing. Compare to Jordan Sonnenblick’s Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie.


At school, Noah’s life seems fairly simple - at least as simple as middle school boys have it. His goofy, slightly smelly friend Sam has a girlfr
Ms. Yingling
Jun 04, 2016 rated it liked it
ARC from Young Adult Books Central

Noah's seventh grade year at his small school starts off a bit tense-- his friend Sam has left a tuna fish sandwich in his locker, boys are standing on the toilets to get in and out of the stall without unlocking the door (no one knows why, exactly), he's worried about the bigger kids giving him a hard time, and he and hid friends are trying their hands at asking girls out. Noah has bigger problems, too. His sister Emma had an unspecified issue last year, and he
Daniel Ross
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was privileged to read an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of this book, and I'm acquainted with Jo Knowles. Frankly, none of this disclosure holds any special meaning at all, because "Still A Work In Progress" is an extraordinary glimpse into the minds, the lives, and the very existence of middle schoolers whether I like it or not.

Jo Knowles knows kids. She knows their likes, their loves, their terrors, and their simple irritations. She knows how parents are sometimes left dumbfounded by events that
Carrie Gelson
There are many things that make this an appealing and important middle grade read. Noah, the main character offers the reader humour, an honest voice and a glimpse into the challenges of middle school, friendship and identity. This part of the story is delivered with lots of humour, believable vulnerabilities and a realistic seventh grader voice. Noah's life is about more than school and figuring out how to be a teenager. There are struggles at home as he and his parents dance around older siste ...more
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm probably never going to love a Jo Knowles book as much as I loved See You at Harry's (cut to me sobbing on an airplane), but this one was really good.

The story is essentially about a teenage girl with an eating disorder, but told from her younger brother's perspective...which is really different and interesting. It's also about family and friendship and what's important in life--there are a lot of great themes, really.

The only thing that bothered me was the dialogue between Noah and his frie
STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS by Jo Knowles follows a seventh grader navigating world of middle school.

Noah feels most comfortable in art class. Life outside the art room is filled with friendship complexities, a sister with an eating disorder, and family issues. A hairless cat named Curly provides a humorous subplot.

Knowles creates a believable world with realistic dialog and authentic situations.

Librarians will find that middle-grade youth enjoy the balance of realistic fiction and humor. The theme
Mrs.Melaugh Melaugh
Aug 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: middle school boys and girls who like Jordan Sonnenblick and Natasha Friend.
Noah deals with the usual day-to-day dramas of middle school as he and his friends squabble about girls and dating. However, woven through his narrative is his worry about the Thing They Don’t Talk About which readers will gradually realize is that Noah’s sister, Emma, has an eating disorder. Home life is stressful, especially at meals, where Emma dictates rules (such as no meat), and their parents go along with it in hopes that Emma will just eat. Balancing out the difficulties at home are Noah ...more
Jun 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
The first part of this book follows three eighth grade boys who are best friends and just starting to navigate the middle school dating scene. While it hints at some darker previous incident with Noah's sister Emma, it is mostly somewhat goofy and lighthearted, complete with padded bra incidents, awkward dances, and a school cat named Curly who helps keep the mouse population down. The second act of this book takes a pretty sharp turn away from the middle school drama into Emma's eating disorder ...more
Cara Long
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Still a Work in Progress is filled with characters that won’t leave you alone. They move into your heart and walk with you through life. Jo Knowles specialty is knowing how it feels to be a teenager. The thoughts, traumas, and heartaches we face—and she lets her characters remind us how to navigate the crazy angst-filled time. There are no short cuts, and no indication that it will be easy—just possible. Told from the male perspective, Noah takes you through family secrets, and walking the fine ...more
Laura Phelps
May 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: possiblemsba2016
This starts off as a fairly typical middle school story focusing on school and friendship dynamics, but mid-way through, things get intense quickly! Jo Knowles knows how to pack an emotional punch and this is a sensitive and realistic portrayal of how eating disorders impact entire families, not just the individual suffering from them. I loved Noah's earnest voice, and his buddies Sam and Ryan are perfect prototypical (but not stereotypical) 8th grade boys.

Thank you to Candlewick for providing
May 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
A pitch perfect adolescent boy drama, all of the confusion and hormones and fart humor with none of the Andrew Smith-esque raunch. I loved its sensitive treatment of mental health issues, its imperfect but well meaning parents, its perfectly age-appropriate friendship angst, and its gently sarcastic humor. This book was my favorite Book Expo grab and the first one I tore into after coming home. Loved it.
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Here is an eating-disorder story from a middle-school sibling's perspective. Closer than anybody to his sister, outside looking in on her disease yet seemingly powerless to help, it's hard to know the limits of your influence on someone else's behavior, and hard not to blame yourself.

This is true even if you have a loving family, several supportive friends, and go to a hippy-dippy school with caring teachers and a hairless therapy cat.
Jun 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Funny & sad story of middle school boys negotiating girls, friendship, school, and family relationships. Chapter titles provide comedic relief: "Please Don't Encourage the Cat to Lick You," "Please Fix the Lighting in the Boys Bathroom So We Can See Our Reflection Better." This story reminded me that my students have very real family struggles at home -- sometimes school is a welcome relief.
Feb 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
3 1/2 stars. I liked that Knowles gave us a male protagonist. I like that she gave us a boy who struggles to understand his sister's health. This book will ring true for many students, but I didn't think it was as powerful as See you at Harry's, which I adored. All in all, another good addition to the middle grade library.
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Oh my, this book! I loved the characters. It brought up that "ugly cry" moment, just like her YA books do. Most importantly, it resulted in some self-reflection and realizations. Highly recommended for grades 5+.
Dylan Teut
Jun 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! Heartfelt. Funny. I was laughing out loud on the plane.
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Hi! I'm the author of Still A Work In Progress, Read Between The Lines, Living With Jackie Chan, See You At Harry's, Pearl, Jumping Off Swings, and Lessons From A Dead Girl. My newest book, Where The Heart Is, comes out on April 2! I'm available for school, library and book club visits either in person or via skype. For more info, please visit Thanks! :-)