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4.22  ·  Rating details ·  929 ratings  ·  202 reviews
Clea can't control her thoughts. She knows she has to do her homework . . . but she gets distracted. She knows she can't just say whatever thought comes into her head . . . but sometimes she can't help herself. She know she needs to focus . . . but how can she do that when the people around her are always chewing gum loudly or making other annoying noises?

It's starting to
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published March 26th 2019 by Scholastic
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Zoey Schneider It's an Amazing book and is very realistic and relatable
It's an Amazing book and is very realistic and relatable

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Average rating 4.22  · 
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After reading Alyson Gerber's author's note about her own struggles with undiagnosed ADHD at school (and from the first grade at that) I do totally and with pleasure understand why her main character Clea feels so flesh and blood real and so personally relatable (as the author is obviously even while writing a fictional story at least partially penning her own experiences, with the main difference of course and happily being that in Focused, Clea's teachers do notice that there is something seri ...more
mindful.librarian ☀️
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
As an adult teacher/librarian/parent I very much appreciated this story about a 7th grade girl with ADHD, and actually learned a few things about the condition. I appreciate what Gerber did with the story and how she shares so much with readers about ADHD, although it does tend toward the blatant teach-y side at times. It's also very chess-heavy, so if you have readers who are into chess, send this their way! I'd recommend this for the 4th-6th grade crowd, as it reads pretty young despite being ...more
Samantha (WLABB)
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Clea felt like she was failing at EVERYTHING! She was messing up her class assignments, hurting her friends and family - she just couldn't seem to do anything right. After a string of poor grades, her parents had Clea tested and discovered that she has ADHD. Now that she had an explanation for why these things were happening, would Clea be able to repair all the damage she had done?

Maybe it's because Gerber is writing from experience. Maybe it's just because she's a great write
Laura Gardner
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 for FOCUSED by @alysongerber, which doesn't come out until 3/26/19. Big thanks to Alyson and @scholasticinc for sharing this ARC with me (and #kidlitexchange) for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
Clea is gifted at chess, a good friend and an excellent big sister to Henley, who struggles with a communication disorder. Oh, and Clea also has problems focusing and it's starting to have a serious impact on her work. #focusedthebook is the story of a middle grade girl discove
What I loved about this book:
The detailed POV of seventh-grade student Clea showing the triggers of her distractibility and emotional outbursts.
How the guidance counselors and psychologists listened to Clea and addressed her needs and concerns.
That the author emphasized that ADHD does not affect intelligence. Those diagnosed are not lazy or dumb.

What I hated about this book:
How Clea's teachers, especially her English teacher, responded to her behaviors and academic struggles. Why would any tea
Note: I received an ARC of Focused via a book sharing group in exchange for my honest review.

Author Alyson Gerber uses her own experiences with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to portray Clea's struggles in school and with relationships with friends and family. Clea's passion is chess, but her struggles elsewhere impact her playing too.

While I enjoyed Focused, I also found it a touch long for the message and I had grown a touch weary of Clea. The novel started to feel contrived
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In Alyson Gerber’s first novel Braced, readers were given the opportunity to learn the story of Rachel Brooks, a middle grades student who has scoliosis but also who has persistence and resilience. Rachel learns to re-see herself and her strengths, and she provided, for many readers, a mirror to their lives and the chance to see themselves and their struggles valued in a novel. And maybe more importantly, Braced gave readers who have not had to face such challenges an awareness, empathy, and und ...more
Laurie Hnatiuk
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
Note: I received an ARC of Focused via a book sharing group in exchange for my honest review.

Clea is a middle grade student who has a passion for chess but is struggling with her school life. No matter how hard she tries she cant seem to complete assignments on time or properly. She has difficulty staying organized and she has on more than one occasion blurted out comments that have impacted her relationships with friends and members of her chess club. This struggle to stay on top of everything
Feb 26, 2019 rated it liked it
*Review is of an advanced reader copy

Having not experienced ADHD myself I appreciated this middle grade novel about Clea, a middle school student struggling to mange her increasing workload amid her inability to avoid distractions and stay on task. Clea is eventually diagnosed with ADHD and must come to terms with her condition and work out how to handle her school work. Through intervention from a compassionate doctor, a helpful school advocate, dedicated parents, and medication, Clea begins to
Feb 20, 2019 added it
Shelves: read-in-2019
This book is intense in the very best way. From page one, I was RIGHT THERE with Clea, who is trying SO hard to keep up with her school work and be the kind of friend and sister she wants to be. Clea finds out partway into the book that she has ADHD, and her story offers such a compassionate, immersive look at what it’s like to manage middle school with ADHD. I felt Clea’s frustrations and worries with her. I saw so clearly how her brain works and the challenges and strengths she has because of ...more
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 7dla
I personally loved this book. Mostly because the main character had a difficult time in school and in her personal life with having ADHD but when she started to spoke out everything turn around for her, and she found things a lot easier to handle. I would recommend this book someone who likes reading books where people find who they really are, and express themselves.
Jen Petro-Roy
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebook, middle-grade, 2018, arc
Oh, I so adored this. Gerber perfectly captures the mind of a girl with ADHD and balances it so well with Clea’s family and friend struggles. I love the supporting cast, too.
Kim Bahr
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A great book to help understand ADHD. Powerful in helping teens learn to self-advocate.
Kathy Mathey
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
...will resonate with kids and SHOULD resonate with teachers

...lots of practical suggestions for managing ADHD
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
E-ARC provided by Edelweiss
This should be required reading for teachers of middle grade readers. As she did with Braced, this author has raised my awareness of an issue (this time it is ADHD) by providing me with a window (term from Dr. Simms Bishop) into the life of a typical middle school student. Her discriptions of needing quiet, time management, and organization will stay with me for a while. The information shared about this diagnosis brings much needed information to readers.
Librarians, p
Ms. Yingling
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Clea really wants to do well in school, and thinks it is her own fault that she doesn't get all of her work done and forgets to study for some things. It's hard enough to get out of the house in the morning, but if she would just buckle down and worked harder, she would do okay. It's hard to juggle school AND chess team, but she loves to play, especially since her best friend Red is on the team with her. When she fails several assignments, the school contacts her parents
Mary Lee
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was really hard to read at the beginning because of the great job the author did portraying the main character's scattered thinking and disorganization. She's a train wreck. The parts where the psychologist and psychiatrist explain ADHD and the testing process were also slow. It was worth it for the end, when the meds and the strategies start working and she is able to start being successful in school and mending some relationships that she damaged with her impulsivity. She is even able to ...more
Kristin Crouch
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Alyson Gerber for sharing a review copy of Focused with Collabookation.
Clea is falling behind in all of her classes, and it isn't for lack of trying. She finds herself constantly playing catchup, but when she sits down to work, she perseverates on the sounds around her or her latest mistake. After some evaluations and observations, Clea learns that she has ADHD. So begins a book in which Clea must learn how to be herself when that can often be a challenging task.
Alyson Gerber grew
Afoma Umesi
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Focused is a moving exploration of a child’s life with ADHD. It deflates stereotypes about the condition and shows just how much effort people with ADHD have to exert to function in a neurotypical world. With an unforgettable voice and strong themes of friendship, family, and crossing over from childhood to teenage years, Focused is a memorable read. I would strongly recommend this one for anyone curious about ADHD, chess lovers, and anyone who’s ever squabbled with a best friend.

To see more of
Apr 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
I was really excited about this one, but it felt lackluster. It reads mostly like an after school special about ADHD, with very flat characters and very little in the way of conflict. The author lets the character get into so few difficult situations, that no one is ever really challenged or emotionally developed. Oh well.
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you are a middle school teacher, you will want this book for your classroom library. FOCUSED, by Alyson Gerber, is an important and engaging middle grade novel that addresses what it’s like to have ADHD. The story is told from the perspective of Clea, a 7th grade girl, who loves to play chess, but struggles with focusing on her school work. She has a kind heart as readers see by the way she adores her younger sister. However, friendships and academics start to go down hill fast, as she can’t ...more
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am so grateful to Alyson for sending me a copy of her upcoming book, FOCUSED (March 2019). I really loved her debut book, BRACED, about a middle school girl who needs to wear a back brace to manage scoliosis. Alyson wrote from the heart based on her own experience, and when I heard FOCUSED was also inspired by her real life challenges with ADHD, I was anxious to read it. .

What I loved about this book: Clea is having trouble in school, which is impacting her passion for chess. If she can’t keep
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 4th-grade, 2019
I give out Scholastic Book Orders every month and have my students make a classroom wish list. This book was on the list multiple times so I ordered it (but hogged it and read it first muahahaha). What a REALLY good book! It's about a girl named Clea who keeps messing up in school (and with friendships) and thinking she just has to try harder. Eventually, although she's not on board with this, her parents get her tested for ADHD. This explores her feelings about all of that, how to navigate scho ...more
Imagene Wonders
Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is about a girl named Clea. She isn't very good at school, and the only subject that she is actually good at is chess. She keeps coming home with all of these projects and reports and papers with big "F"s on them, making her parents worry. But the biggest problem is that she just can't focus. So one day, her parents take her to get tested for ADHD. Clea doesn't think she has ADHD. She just thinks she is stupid and lazy and can't get anything done right. But to her surprise, she does ha ...more
Lorie Barber
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
WOW is what I thought of this book. Never have I ever read a book that helps me “feel,” emotionally, what ADHD does to a child. The frustration, the anxiety, and the insecurity. I could hear the voices of my students who struggle with ADHD. Not only that, but MC Clea isn’t just her diagnosis. She has an activity she loves, a best friend who is struggling with trauma and grief, and a mean girl who had targeted Clea in her bullying.

Such a well-rounded book with well-developed characters and a plo
Sharon Rose
3.5 stars. I enjoyed this book and liked the insight it gave into ADHD. Sometimes it felt like the point was to walk through how it works to get diagnosed and treated for ADHD more than a story in and of itself, but I still enjoyed the characters and feel like I learned a lot more about ADHD. Apart from the psychological bent, it was a nice school story, with a little bit of innocent romance and how friendships change in middle school.
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: family, childrens
I loved this book. As an aspiring teacher, it was great to learn about ADHD and how a student may be thinking. It gives a new perspective that I would have never experienced myself in my life. But I can gain that understanding through that book. Clea is very much has the voice of a 7th grade girl, which is something important to remember. I would recommend this book to my classmates and future students to give understanding to what other students may experience in their school lives.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book left me exhausted and feeling so much sympathy for my students who struggle with focus issues. I consider myself pretty well informed and I try my best to help all students, but this book showed areas where I'm clearly doing the exact wrong thing and gave some good suggestions for better responses on my part.
Georgie H.
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book brings to light important issues for school aged kids. Time and again we hear how important it is to read parts of ourselves reflected in literature; it creates solidarity and understanding for kids coming of age. Alyson is a rockstar writer!
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My 15 year old son was diagnosed at 6 years old with ADHD and has been on medication ever since. It was heartbreaking to get a glimpse of the struggles that he may face everyday even with the accommodations that we have fought so hard for. Thank you for writing this novel.
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Alyson Gerber is the author of BRACED, FOCUSED, and TAKING UP SPACE (out May 18, 2021), which are all #ownvoices middle grade novels published by Scholastic.

BRACED received three starred reviews, was a Junior Library Guild Selection, and has been nominated for state book awards and reading lists in Oklahoma, Indiana, New Hampshire, Virginia, South Dakota, and Georgia. Alyson’s second novel, FOCUSE

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