Wednesday, April 11, 2018

You Go First

35068526Kelly, Erin Entrada. You Go First
April 10th 2018 by Greenwillow Books
ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central

Charlotte lives near Philadelphia, and Ben lives in Louisiana. They've never met, although they have played online Scrabble together on many occasions. When they both have particularly bad weeks, Ben calls Charlotte, and they actually talk. Having one good friend is helpful to both of them in getting through their weeks. Charlotte's somewhat older father has had a serious heart attack and is in the hospital, and Ben's parents have told them that they are getting a divorce. Combined with the normal middle school drama both are experiencing, (such as Ben's attempts to run for a school office even though he is regularly bullied) these new additions to their world are almost overwhelming. Despite the distance that separates them, they are able to help each other navigate the tricky waters of adolescent life.

Kelly gives a believable reason for the two to have connected on line, and there is some discussion of online safety, even though Charlotte later makes some bad decisions and sets off for the city on her own. Technology is present in many children's lives today, so it is realistic to include it, but hard to do so in a way that won't become dated very soon. (Myspace or pagers, anyone?)

The problems that both children face are ones that are fairly common. Parents become ill, many parents get divorced, and other children at school are not always kind. It is good to see that both Charlotte and Ben do have some caring adults in their lives, but sometimes a friend can offer much different help from an adult.

Readers who enjoy introspective books that cover serious topics, such as Buyea's Because of Mr. Terupt, Bauer's Almost Home, Palaccio's Wonder and Sonnenblick's Falling Over Sideways will enjoy learning how Charlotte and Ben deal with the difficulties that life hands them.

That said, I've found it difficult to get students to check out Kelly's Blackbird Fly, Hello, Universe and  Land of the Forgotten Girls. I think this is because the books move rather slowly. Puzzle books also don't do well in my library, so I will have to debate purchasing this title, as much as I like Kelly's work.

Ms. Yingling

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