Cover image for Because of Anya
Because of Anya
Haddix, Margaret Peterson.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2002.
Physical Description:
114 pages ; 22 cm
While ten-year-old Anya faces the difficulties of losing her hair to alopecia, her classmate Keely learns how to stand up for what she knows is right.
Reading Level:
710 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.6 3.0 65076.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 4.5 6 Quiz: 34119 Guided reading level: Q.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

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Ten-year-old girls don't wear wigs.

So why is Anya wearing one? That's what Keely wants to know. But when Anya's wig falls off in front of the whole class, Keely realizes what she really wants is to help Anya, even though she's not sure how--and even though it means she'll have to do something she's afraid of: stand up to her friends.

As for Anya, she just wants her hair to grow back, but no one can tell her whether it ever will. How can she learn to accept her disease when she can't even look in the mirror?

Author Notes

Margaret Peterson Haddix was born in Washington Court House, Ohio on April 9, 1964. She received bachelor's degrees in English/journalism, English/creative writing, and history from Miami University in 1986. Before becoming an author, she was a copy editor for The Journal-Gazette, a newspaper reporter for The Indianapolis News, an instructor at Danville Area Community College, and a freelance writer. Her first book, Running Out of Time, was published in 1995. She has written more than 30 books including Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey, Just Ella, Turnabout, The Girl with 500 Middle Names, Because of Anya, and Into the Gauntlet. She also writes the Shadow Children series and the Missing series. She has won the International Reading Association Children's Book Award and several state Readers' Choice Awards.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Haddix (Among the Hidden) returns with a short but often informative tale of ordinary girls facing exceptional circumstances. "Could someone be beautiful with ugly hair? Or-no hair?" wonders 10-year old Anya as she confronts her image in her bedroom mirror. When the first small bald patch shows up on Anya's head, it seems like a small thing, but as the bald patches grow and her hair falls out in clumps, she's diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. At first she thinks. "Whatever alopecia areata was couldn't be too bad, because it was such a pretty name.... It should be one of the ladies in King Arthur's court." All too soon, however, she's wearing a wig, and her classmates Keely, Stef, Tonya and Nicole are wondering if she has cancer. Then the unthinkable occurs: her wig falls off during gym, seemingly pulled off by Stef, the most popular (and bossiest) girl in school. The humiliation is almost too much to bear but Keely, usually only too happy to follow Stef's lead, reaches out to her classmate; Anya gains the courage to accept her condition and the joys of unexpected friendship. Haddix successfully chooses two viewpoints, Anya's (victim) and Keely's (observer), to examine the effects of alopecia, but she oversimplifies Anya's and Keely's relationships to the other girls. The examination of the disease and its accompanying medical information, while useful, takes too much precedence over the development of the friendship. Ages 8-12. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-Quiet, introspective Anya returns to fourth grade from winter break wearing a wig. Classmates conjecture and gossip and pass notes, and the very popular Stef dares her shy apostle Keely to find out what's going on. Having known Anya since kindergarten, Keely is torn between concern for a former friend and fear of ostracism. Anya, recently diagnosed with alopecia areata, wants only to be invisible at school as well as at home, where her parents seem equally devastated and helpless. When the wig comes off during gym class, the youngster flees the school to barricade herself from the world in her room. Keely, always a follower, must decide between her anguished desire to help a friend she wishes she'd kept, while Anya must figure out how she's going to live with her condition. Both come to terms with fear of change, Keely by cutting off her own tresses so Anya can have a wig made of real hair, and Anya by accepting this gift and opening herself up to her classmates, who turn out to be eager to respond with concern and kindness. Simply written, alternating between the two protagonists as they work toward one another, this is a poignant story of discovery on many levels. Haddix is sensitive to Anya's despair and her classmates' relief when they learn that she doesn't have cancer, and delicately navigates the emotional terrain, resolving the story with an upbeat determination. This is a much-needed introduction in kid-friendly prose to a fairly common malady that's particularly excruciating for preadolescents, for whom appearance often is all.-Mary R. Hofmann, Rivera Middle School, Merced, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter Two "You were practically waving the note at Mrs. Hobson!" Nicole said as they headed out for recess. "No wonder you got caught!" "No, I wasn't!" Keely protested. "It was on my lap!" But had she lifted it up, trying to figure out what Stef was trying to tell her? Tears stung in her eyes, and she angrily blinked them away. She had to be ready. Stef was bound to lecture her again. But Stef turned around and told Nicole, "Shh. Don't talk about it now. Not until we're..." She tilted her head in a signal they all understood. They were going out to the tree to talk. The tree was their spot. It was at the very edge of the playground, past the swings, past the jungle gym, past the baby slides the kindergartners used. It was so far out that sometimes at the beginning of the year the teacher with playground duty had yelled at them, "Hey, where are the four of you going?" Stef had always gone back to explain. Stef knew how to talk to teachers. Now they could walk out to the tree and nobody said anything. And nobody followed. The ground was frozen beneath Keely's feet, but the sun was out and the air was warm. It didn't feel like January. Keely didn't even need her mittens. If Keely hadn't been so stupid as to get caught with that note, she could be enjoying the winter sunshine right now, enjoying being back with her friends, enjoying recess. They reached the tree. Keely leaned against the bark, letting the tree hold her up. "Listen," Stef said, lowering her voice even though they were a long, long way from any of the other kids. "Forget about Keely's mistake. Do any of you know why Anya's wearing a wig?" Keely breathed out a silent sigh of relief. She waited for Nicole or Tory to answer. That was how their friendship went. Stef was in charge. She was the one who had decided when they had all gotten too old for dolls. She was the one who had decided soccer wasn't really very much fun after all. She was the one who had decided glitter gel was stupid. She was the one who usually decided what they were going to play every day at recess. Nicole and Tory were next in line. Sometimes Nicole or Tory could even tell Stef what to do. Just not very often. And then there was Keely. Sometimes she felt like she was just hanging on by her fingertips. Sometimes it seemed like she was just one mistake away from not having any friends. That's why she tried to keep her mouth shut, whenever possible. She didn't want to be like Anya. Did Anya ever have anyone to play with? Nicole shook her blond hair so it bounced against her shoulders. "Maybe Anya thinks she's going to start a new fashion or something," she giggled. Tory ran her hand through her dark hair. "Well, it's not going to catch on. I'd hate wearing a wig," she said. Keely noticed that no one waited for her to answer. "No, no, guys, think," Stef said impatiently. "What if she has to wear a wig? Because her own hair is falling out?" "Eeww," Nicole said, turning up her nose. "No, listen. What if she has cancer? And her hair's falling out because she has to have chemotherapy?" Nobody said anything. The tree's empty branches rattled overhead. Cancer? Keely thought. Cancer? She felt like her heart skipped a beat. "But Anya's just a kid. Like us," Tory said. "Yeah," Stef whispered. "And she might be dying." Keely had a sudden memory of kindergarten. The first day, Anya had held the door of the classroom open for Keely to go in in front of her. Keely could remember what Anya had been wearing that day: a frilly pink dress. And Anya's mom or somebody had curled Anya's hair and pulled it back in a big pink bow. Keely had watched those bobbing curls and felt her own fear fade away. Someone was being nice to her already. Maybe school wouldn't be so bad after all. And now Anya, the first person to be nice to Keely at school, was going to die? "Somebody would have told us," Nicole said. "Mrs. Hobson or...or Mrs. Wiley." Mrs. Wiley was the guidance counselor. She came into their classroom every month or so and talked about feelings and friendship and having good self-esteem. Stef, Nicole, and Tory always laughed at Mrs. Wiley, but Keely wanted every word she spoke to be true. "Maybe Anya didn't want anyone to know," Stef said. "Maybe she's being brave and strong, and doesn't want anyone to feel sorry for her. We ought to do something to help her." Stef got like this sometimes. Just when Keely had decided Stef was the meanest person she knew, Stef would turn everything around and act like the kindest person ever. Keely could tell that Nicole was feeling bad now for making a face and saying "Eeww" about Anya's hair maybe falling out. Keely herself felt bad for thinking Stef had passed her the note about Anya's wig so Keely would laugh at her. "What do you think we should do?" Keely asked in a small voice. "I don't know..." Stef let her voice trail off. She stared off into the distance, watching the other kids on the playground. "There's got to be something we can do to cheer up Anya." "My mom read this thing in the newspaper," Tory said. "There was this high school football player, see? And he got cancer and had to have whatever that stuff's called -- " "Chemotherapy," Stef said. "Yeah, that. Anyway, he lost all his hair. And to show how much they cared about him, all the other boys on the football team shaved their heads too. So he wouldn't stand out, because they were all bald." For one horrible second Keely thought Stef was going to say that was what they'd have to do for Anya. No matter how bad she felt for Anya, Keely didn't want to be bald. Then she saw Stef's hand fly up to her hair, and Keely knew: Stef would never say they should shave their heads. Keely had never thought about it much before, but all her friends had really great hair. Tory's was dark and sleek and shiny -- it reminded Keely of the seals she'd seen at the zoo, flashing through the water. Nicole's was long and blond, and didn't everyone always want to be blond? But Stef's was the most impressive of all. It was red and wavy, and stood out like a great cloud around her head. People always noticed Stef, because they noticed her hair. "Anya would probably just think we were making fun of her if we cut off all our hair," Stef said, like that was the only reason she didn't want to shave her head. "Besides, we don't know that she's bald, just that she's wearing a wig. No, we'll just have to go out of our way to be nice to her. That's what we'll do." As if Stef had planned it, the recess bell rang just then. All four girls took off running, back to the school. Keely felt her long hair thumping against her shoulders as she ran. I'm glad I have hair, she thought. I'm glad I don't have to wear a wig. I'm glad I don't have cancer. Copyright © 2002 by Margaret Peterson Haddix Excerpted from Because of Anya by Margaret Peterson Haddix All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.