Monday, June 12, 2017

MMGM-Let's Pretend We Never Met

It's MMGM at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and #IMWAYR at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday

32075488Walker, Melissa. Let's Pretend We Never Met
June 13th 2017 by HarperCollins
ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central

Mattie is not thrilled to have to move from North Carolina to Phildelphia over winter break, even though it means being near her beloved grandmother, Maeve. Her father is working long hours at his new job, her mother can't find work, and she has to start a new school. One bright spot is her neighbor, Agnes, who is a little quirky but very exuberant and fun. When school starts, Agnes misses the first three days back to care for an abandoned baby bird. Mattie is relieved, and is able to make new friends, including the cute Finn, who is very attentive and sweet. Once Agnes returns to school, all of Mattie's fears about her are confirmed. She's odd, and the other students stay away from her. They aren't too mean (with the exception of Marissa, who's having a hard time of her own), but Mattie realizes that if she admits to being friends with Agnes, she might lose her friendship with Shari. As her grandmother's condition worsens and the family prepares to move her out of her house, it is even more important to Mattie that her school situation is stable. Besides, Agnes gets annoying even to Mattie. Will she be able to keep her friends if she admits that Agnes is sometimes fun to have around?

Let's Pretend We Never Met is a perfect model for what middle grade novels should include. The friend drama is paramount, but the family drama is deftly handled. There's nothing earth shattering occurring, but Mattie is affected by her family's situation. Many middle grade students have to deal with moving, parents' employment situations, and aging grandparents. I loved that Mattie was able to voice her concerns to her parents and eventually get help working through the issues she faced with their help. The romance with Finn is unrealistically wonderful, but what tween girl wouldn't be thrilled if a boy had his uncle send him a pencil for her favorite sports team?!

The other children at school are also almost too good to be true, but do serve as an excellent but realistic example of how children should behave. Once Mattie explains to them a little about Agnes, they accept her. Agnes is never identified as being on the autism spectrum, but her character descriptions certainly read that way. She is described as having a social disorder that includes anxiety, and she has no filters when it comes to her clothing or speech. Her mother's parenting is a little suspect (she allows Agnes to miss a lot of school and stay home to be watched over by the apartment building doormen!), but this is at least questioned by Mattie's mother.

Maeve is a great literary grandmother, and even though it's clear that she is in the beginning stages of dementia, the matter is handled in a positive way. Maeve eventually agrees to go into an assisted living facility and treats it as an "adventure" while still admitting that leaving her home makes her sad. This is a great example for children to see. The family faces every day adversity by working together to find positive solutions. This is played out in the case of the mother's unemployment as well. The mother doesn't hide the fact that finding jobs is difficult from Mattie, but also is optimistic about her chances and doesn't give up.

Upbeat, realistic fiction with a sympathetic character is always popular with tween readers. Readers who like Lowry's Anastasia or Nixon's Alice series will enjoy meeting Mattie, and comparable stand alone titles inclue Hurwitz's Callie Be Gold, Vernick's Water Balloon, Messner's The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z and Shang's The Great Wall of Lucy Wu.
Ms. Yingling


  1. I'm always on the search for a good contemporary story where neither the dog or parent dies. Thanks for sharing this one. I'll be sure to add it to my list of books to read.

  2. I like how tough issues are dealt with in a realistic but positive way. This sounds like a great read for teens. It has my interest because Agnes is differently abled and the intergenerational theme with the aging grandmother.

  3. I'm adding this one to the TBR. Looks fun!

  4. This sounds just perfect - these kinds of everyday drama stories are so important because they don't minimise the impact these kinds of events can have on a tween. Sure deciding who to be friends with or starting a new school might not seem earth-shaking to an adult, but to a young person these issues can really feel life-changing.

  5. Mattie sounds like a great addition to the world of middle grade fiction. I'm always happy to see books that show us how the world is and can be. I'll look for this one.
    Happy reading.

  6. This sounds really good--although I don't they should be too sad about moving to North Carolina, especially if it's Charlotte. (someone told me they have a good library system)

  7. I am also adding this to my TBR pile. Thank you for sharing it!

  8. This book sounds great! I like that it has a variety of concepts in it. Thanks for the recommendation!

  9. Thanks for telling me about this. It sounds like a terrific book, and I will be looking for it.