Sarah. In a perfect world Franklin would practice major risk avoidance and steer clear of Sarah Kervick. But Pelican View Middle School is not the best environment for a young, sensitive, asymmetrical boy like Franklin. Due to “administrative tampering at the highest level,” Franklin sits next to Sarah in five of seven classes. She has imposed a deal on him: She watches over him, keeps him safe from “the criminal element at school,” and he makes sure her grades are good enough for her to participate in the Greater Pelican View Amateur Figure Skating Association. For all her faults and weird ways, Sarah can skate. And for whatever reasons, Franklin’s mother and Gloria Nelots, his Washington D.C. friend, have invested a lot of time, care, and money into seeing that Sarah meets her dreams.
But life is not all laughs and the world is not always safe. Beneath the humor there’s a growing sense of things not being right, of friends coming apart at the seams. Franklin’s intense self-focus gravitates outward. Sarah has stopped attending school. She had warned him that she might disappear. Her hidden famly life is revealed, and he learns that things are not always as they seem. Sarah's departure has left a gaping hole in Franklin’s life and his heart. If he is to be a true friend he must now assume some major personal risk.
Donutheart is the second book about Franklin and Sarah. While I read and thoroughly enjoyed the story, I wonder if I might have understood more had I read Donuthead first. I never fully grasped Franklin’s relationship with Gloria Nelots, nor the intense focus on Sarah by both his mother and Gloria. Maybe the first book would have answered those nagging questions and they could have been avoided.
Finally, I did have a bit of a problem in the way Stauffacher resolved Sarah's problem. While Franklin conquered his fears and made giant strides in going way beyond his comfortable boundaries in order to help Sarah, she is actually secured to safety by the additional help of another character. Despite those issues, the strength of Franklin’s voice and the story, itself, kept me reading, laughing and hungry for more.