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4.32  ·  Rating details ·  138 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Following Braced, which had three starred reviews, comes a story of a girl caught between her love of chess and her ADHD.

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 c
Published March 26th 2019 by Scholastic
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4.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  138 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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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 discovering th
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
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
Jen Petro-Roy
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, arc, ebook, middle-grade
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.
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
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
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
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
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: 2019, 4th-grade
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
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
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!
Becky Porter
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic middle grade read about what it’s like to be diagnosed with ADHD and how to manage it.
Laura Mossa
Focused is a honest and authentic story about seventh grader Clea and her experience being diagnosed with ADHD. From the very first page, it is clear that Clea struggling to keep up with her schoolwork. She can’t concentrate when taking a quiz and leaves answers blank. When completing homework, she finds it hard to manage her time which results in incomplete assignments. Chess is Clea’s passion and if her grades slip, her opportunity to be on the chess team is in jeopardy. Adding more fuel to th ...more
Carol Ekster
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! If you know anyone with ADHD this book is a must. And if they don't have ADHD they need to read this to understand that not everyone functions the same way. It will make them more empathetic towards others. This book was powerful. It felt real and was a fabulous plot filled with friendship, school problems, chess and compassion. Wonderful!
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh, how I loved this book! She is such a great author.
Michele Knott
This book will be so powerful for kids who have ADHD to read. And at the same time offer a window into what it may feel like to have ADHD - important for young readers and those who care for and work with kids who have this to read.
What an insightful book about a young person with ADHD. Much thanks to the author for giving this reader a greater understanding of ADHD and a great character to root for
Karen McKenna
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
From the first page, I felt transported in Clea's world. I felt her stress, her distraction, her confusion, and her desire to be a responsible student and friend. I lived her story. Alyson Gerber does a masterful job at crafting Clea's experience in a way that the reader experiences it as well. As a teacher, I have more empathy after reading this book. I wonder how many students are like Clea, but I only see the disorganization or confusion. I think this book will be powerful for students with A ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! Really gives you an idea of what is happening in the mind of someone with ADHD.
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Clea has always been a good student, but 7th grade is proving especially difficult. She just can’t seem to get organized enough to get her homework done on time, and she seems to have trouble controlling her need to blurt out whatever she’s thinking. Her parents think she needs to be tested for ADHD. Gerber’s middle grade novel, told in first person reads as frantic as Clea is feeling. A great empathy experience for the teen reader.
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Focused by Alyson Gerber, 304 pages. Scholastic, April 2019. $17.

Content: G



Clea can’t concentrate. If she can’t concentrate, she can’t get her homework done. And if she doesn’t get her homework done, she’ll be on academic probation and she won’t be able to go to nor compete with the school chess club. She may have started going to please her best friend Red, but now she goes because she loves it. Unfortunately, Clea also can’t keep her mout
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
Valerie McEnroe
My students love realistic books that are truly about life without tons of exaggerations. They like to see themselves in the books they read. Braced did that and so does Focused. I'll admit, however, I liked Braced more because it deals with a popular sport.

This book does an excellent job of capturing what it feels like to have ADHD. I have no doubt that kids who have it are going to say, "That's me!" and kids who know people with it are going to say, "Now I get it." Definitely a book for every
Shan Salter
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
@kidlitexchange #partner #bookstagram #kidlitexchange #kidlit #bookreview @scholasticinc @alysongerber

Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

FOCUSED By Alyson Gerber

On sale date: March 26, 2019

From the author of Braced, which sheds light on scoliosis, comes Focused - a middle-grade novel about ADHD.

The main character, chess-obsessed Clea, has been struggling with school and her relationships with others. When she is diagnosed with ADHD, he
Apr 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s, 2019
children's middlegrade fiction - girl with ADHD (#ownvoices) struggles with schoolwork in 7th grade, gets tested for ADHD and finds that medicine helps her (she also competes in her chess club, makes new friends, and argues with her existing friend.

this book pretty much serves the one purpose - teaching kids about ADHD and helps those with the condition to cope and not feel alone - but it does a pretty good job and does fill that need. The medication part is simplified (there is one option offer
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Alyson wore a back brace for scoliosis from the age of eleven to thirteen, an experience that led directly to her debut novel BRACED.

BRACED received three starred reviews and a Junior Library Guild Selection. It has been nominated for the 2019 Oklahoma Library Association’s Sequoyah Book Award, the 2019 Indiana Library Library Federation’s Young Hoosier Book Award, and the 2019 New Hampshire Libra
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