I can't believe the middle grade books this year. They all scream to my middle grade self. These are the books I loved as a kid. These are the books that I love passing on to readers now. What I love about them... they are smart, they have endings that get it right - because middle grade readers? They know when they don't. A new book you've got to pick up:
by Elaine Vickers
published by Harper Collins
Meet Ana and Katie. They are your typical middle schoolers. Except maybe they have a few secrets inside. Secrets that feel safer on the inside, than in the minds of others. Except these secrets are starting to tear them apart. Both on the inside and the relationships they have with their family and each other.
Take Ana. She seems to have it all together. She's funny and nice and seems confident. But really she's hiding the fact that her family has fallen apart. Her father, a famous NHL player has left their family. And when he left, he took a part of their mom with him. It's hard for her to take care of Ana and her younger brother, Mikey. Someone has to do it, so that falls on Ana's shoulders. But then Babushka comes to stay with them and her old school Russian ways aren't going over well with Ana. But instead of confiding these secrets, she keeps them, well, secret.
Katie has a very loving family - her parents dote on her. She always knows what to say to make the situation seem better. But really, Katie is just as broken as Ana on the inside. She feels like she may always break because she has a faulty heart. She's had heart surgery and needs to be very careful. But Katie feels if she lets people know this information they will see her as weak. And the big secret, she is adopted and wants to know more about where her origins are, what the people she is truly related to are like. But that secret will really hurt the relationship she has with her parents, so it stays on the inside too.
We see this information that neither of the girls will share and how it impacts everything they do. This story could have gone in several directions. It could have been predictable, with these secrets coming to a classic collision. Instead, Elaine Vickers uses them in a way that is smart and compassionate. I don't want to give anything away, but I want you to know that I was really happy with the way things came together. It surprised me and touched my heart.
I think middle grade readers will see themselves in this book. Not necessarily in the same situations as Katie and Ana, but they'll have had secrets before. They'll have had that feeling where they don't know who to trust, when to speak up. They'll know what it's like to not be able to say the right thing or find the right words. They'll understand that feeling of being unsure and not knowing what to do.
This book will touch their hearts!
Make sure you find a copy of this book next week on October 17th. Read it quick because you might not see it again until the end of the school year - it's going to be loved!