A tuba player without a tuba and his jellyfish-imitating sister cope with their father's disappearance in this hilarious and moving novel by the author of The Mortification of Fovea Munson

When Lenny Volpe, former quarterback of the worst professional football team in the nation, leaves his family and disappears, the Chicago Horribles win their first game in a long time. Fans are thrilled. The world seems to go back to normal. Except for the Volpe kids.

Winston throws himself into playing the tuba, and Louise starts secret experiments to find a cure for brain injuries, and they're each fine, just fine, coping in their own way. That is, until the investigation of some eccentric teacher behavior and the discovery of a real live bear paraded as the Horribles' new mascot make it clear that things are very much Not Fine. The siblings may just need each other, after all.

What's Inside

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Reader Reviews


"[T]he Volpe siblings are relatable as they shut each other out; their journey toward reconnecting is well worth the ride. Heider skillfully interweaves seemingly disparate threads into this character-centered, heartfelt story, culminating in a satisfying conclusion."

Publishers Weeklly

* "Readers will be hard put to judge whether which is more entertaining—the plot or the cast—but between the two there’s never a dull moment. A buoyant ending leaves Winston, Louise, and the bear (who even gets a POV turn in one chapter) in better places."


"This is a story about teamwork in every sense of the word. It touches on how important it is to work together, support each other, and to ask for help when needed."

School Library Connection

"Offbeat and poignant, this is a healing balm for living in an imperfect galaxy."

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