Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started and is hosted by the (now wildly famous!) Shannon Whitney Messenger at her blog. Hop over there THIS WEEK to see a list of links to other bloggers posting this week on middle grade books!
This review is also posted at YA Books Central.
Gephart, Donna. Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen
Publication Date 13 March 2012 , E ARC from Netgalley.com
Olivia and her little brother Charlie ADORE trivia, and grew up watching Jeopardy with their father. Things have changed for the worse in Olivia's world, though-- her father married her best friend Nikki's mother and moved to California, her mother has moved in Neil, and her best friend Tucker is being a jerk to her. When Olivia finds out that there are auditions for Jeopardy, she wants to take the online test and try out... but her mother loses her job as a newspaper reporter and is too depressed to register her, and her father is too busy keeping up with his gambling addiction to do it either. Luckily, Neil comes through, and Olivia does well enough on the test to go to try outs in D.C. The family situation worsens, however, and when she finally gets to visit her father in California, she finds out why her friend Nikki won't talk to her, and learns that Neil is more reliable than her own father.
Strengths: Gephart is a smooth writer who gets many things about middle grade fiction pitch perfect. Olivia's hopes are all too real, and while things work out for her, there is an undercurrent of painful reality.
Weaknesses: This was a rather sad book, and the cover made it look happy, so there was a cognitive disconnect for a bit. It still was very good, so I will buy it, even though I need more humorous than sad books.