Brody, Jessica. Addie Bell's Shortcut to Growing Up
February 14th 2017 by Delacorte
E ARC provided by the publisher
Addie has a big fight with her best friend, Grace on her 12th birthday. Addie is tired of all of the drama of 7th grade, and thinks if she were just four years older, like her sister, everything would be perfect. She'd have a figure, boys wouldn't be so weird, and her parents wouldn't be so overbearing and might even let her have a cell phone. Her elderly neighbor Mrs. Toodles, whose grasp on reality is tenuous, has given her a decorative antique box for her birthday, and tells her that if she writes a wish on a slip of paper and puts it in the box, it will come true. After her fight with Grace, Addie's wishes that she were 16... and wakes up the next morning with more manageable hair, a car to drive, and a new best friend, Clementine. Addie is pretty and popular, but even after she gets a hang of her new school schedule and realizes that the very cute J.T. is actually the boy who gave her a shaken up can of grape soda in 7th grade, she realizes that being 16 comes with its own set of problems. She desperately tries to get Grace to talk to her so that she can understand what she did wrong. Will Addie decide to stay 16, or will she try to figure out the mystery of the box so that she can go back and try to remain friends with Grace?
Strengths: Ms. Brody really managed to tap her inner tween for this one. Middle school students do really think that high school will be perfect, and this book gives them insight into some of the pluses and minuses of being older. Losing friendships is such a big deal for readers this age, so making that central to the plot is great. I even liked the bittersweet moments, like Addie realizing that her somewhat mean big sister is no longer at home. The scene at the high school dance where Addie was trying to impress boys was really funny, and so true!
Weaknesses: I thought the reason why Addie and Grace stopped being friends should have been a bit stronger.
What I really think: This is a perfectly brilliant book for middle school! It will circulate constantly-- I can see a lot of readers recommending it to friends!