Sunday, August 20, 2017

Things That Surprise You

32711711Maschari, Jennifer. Things That Surprise You
August 22nd 2017 by Balzer + Bray
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Emily and Hazel have been best friends for years, but now that they are about to start middle school, things are changing. Hazel has been spending the summer hanging out with the girls on the field hockey team, and they've all started to dress alike. Emily loves a book series called The Unicorn Chronicles, but after she and Hazel go to a launch party for the newest book, Emily fears that Hazel has moved on to other things. She's embarassed by Em's costume, and tells her that twins they meet at the bookstore, Anita and Hector, are made fun of by the other students and should be avoided. Since Hazel's table at lunch is filled with her team mates, Em struggles to find her own place. Luckily, her language arts teacher, Ms. Arnold, is also a Unicorn fan and invites her to a before school group called the Bagel Bunch, which Anita and Hector attend. She doesn't because of Hazel's censure of the group, but could use some new friends to help her get through some family problems. Her mother is working long hours and getting used to being divorced, and her sister Mina is in a residential center for treatment of her anorexia. Em just wants everything to be like it was before. Even though this is impossible, will Em figure out a way to make her life more enjoyable?
Strengths: THESE are the sort of problems that middle schoolers actually face and like to read about. Friends changing. Families going through rough spots. School projects and working with other students. Not knowing what to wear. Picture day disasters. New friends who make everything seem not so horrible. The tween voice in this is perfect. Emily wanting to be Em, wanting to wear her unicorn costume and make clothes for her dog, being a bit disgusted at her friends boy crazy ways-- perfect. The addition of a sibling struggling with a serious disorder worked well. Enjoyed this tremendously.
Weaknesses: I'm going back and forth on the cover. On the one hand, I think readers who are like Em will pick it up, but I really want readers like Hazel to read this, and they might think the cover is too young.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing this one, and excited to hand it to many different readers. "Friend drama" is always something that circulates well!
Ms. Yingling

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