"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein

18 July 2018

You Go First

Kelly, Erin Entrada. You Go First. Greenwillow Books, 2018.

Charlotte lives in Pennsylvania; Ben lives in Louisiana. Both in middle school, they compete online in Scrabble games and become casual friends. Both are outcasts at their school, and the book opens with a tragedy in each of their lives: Charlotte's father has a heart attack and Ben's parents tell him they are divorcing. Both Ben and Charlotte are navigating the world of middle school and trying to survive through changing friendships, bullying, and the difficulties in their personal lives.

What I Liked: The online aspect of this book is appropriate even for middle school students. The changing friends dynamic that Charlotte deals with as her best friend finds a new friend group and leaves her hanging. Ben's careful consideration of all aspects of his campaign for student council rings true as well. The fact that at the end of the book there is hope that both Charlotte and Ben will continue to be friends with the people they've met.

What I Didn't Like: I kept expecting Ben and Charlotte to talk to each other about their respective difficulties, and although the author occasionally teased us with them talking on the phone and almost telling each other the truth, it didn't actually happen. Since this is a character-driven novel, I was hoping for more development of their friendship.

Overall, this is a story that is well-written and may appeal to middle grade students who prefer stories that are character driven rather than plot-driven. This is a book you hand quietly to a kid who is in the library on their own rather than a book you talk up in front of a large group.

Recommended for: middle grade
Red Flags: bullying of both Ben and Charlotte
Overall Rating: 3/5 stars

Read-Alikes: When You Reach Me, Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World, Definitely Daphne

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