Simmons, Cari and Burns, Laura. All Together Now Picture Perfect #5
January 5th 2016 by HarperCollins
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central
Gracie lives a very sheltered life as an only child with very controlling parents. Her best friend, Mari, has three siblings and a much more rough-and-tumble existence. When Mari's family invites Gracie to tag along on their annual ski weekend, Gracie has a lot of trouble talking her parents into letting her go, but they finally agree so that they can take a spontaneous vacation of their own. When the O'Hagan's finally make it to the cabin, Gracie is surprised at how small it is, and how disorganized everything from meals to appointments are. She has trouble with things like forgetting to close up her suitcase... and is devastated when Mari's younger brother wears her underwear on his head in front of Mari's cute older brothers! Gracie really wanted this vacation to work, but she finds that she doesn't get to spend much time with her friend, and is overwhelmed by all of the noise and activity. In the end, she and Mari learn a lot about each other and each other's families.
I especially liked how Gracie talked her parents into allowing her to go under the guise of writing a paper on single child versus multiple child families. I think that middle grade readers always want to know what it is like to have a different family, which is why everyone of a certain generation loved The Brady Bunch, except maybe people who came from large, blended families! Gracie tries very hard to fit in and to participate in the same way that Mari does, but her inability to keep this up for the entire weekend is realistically portrayed.
While a ski vacation smacks of wealth and privilege, this isn't over the top in the way that a series like The Clique novels are, which I think will make it more accessible to readers. I didn't know that this was book five in the series. The story was well explained, but I would like to go back and read more about this engaging duo.
This is an excellent, light hearted read about real life tween problems that will find avid readers among fans of Santopolo's Sparkle Spa books, Greenwald's Welcome to Dog Beach, and Darling's Crush series.