Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Why Can't I Be You, Full-Court Press

36260498Walker, Melissa. Why Can't I Be You 
June 19th 2018 by HarperCollins
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Claire is very excited about summer, because she is being allowed to stay home by herself. Her friend and neighbor, Ronan, has plenty of plans for things they can do around the trailer park where they live. Things start to get derailed a bit when Claire's friend Brianna introduces them to her cousin, Eden, who is a year older than they are and acts like she's 16 rather than 12. It also doesn't help that Brianna has moved into a fancy new house with a pool, and Claire starts to feel a bit bad about her mother cleaning houses for other people, and about living in a small home. Ronan's father is back after having left the family for a while, but he is struggling with depression, and this is impacting Ronan's life. Claire's own father is very supportive, has frequent visitations, and gets along well enough with her mother. Summer's not bad, but it's more confusing than Claire expected, and Eden seems to be siphoning off Claire's friends, including Ronan. Will this affect their joint birthday party planned for the end of the summer?
Strengths: Like this author's Let's Pretend We Never Met, this book explores the difficulties of navigating friendships in middle school. I love that Walker takes very common facets of middle grade friendships that are rarely covered in literature and deftly explores them. It is really hard to have friends who are wealthier, even if your family is happy with what they have, and it's annoying to lose a friend to someone who is "cooler". Eden is an all too common type of 12 year old, and it's nice to see her contrasted against an ordinary 11 year old who doesn't really care that much about clothing or boys (other to have them as friends). Bonus points for having her be biracial-- my own daughters have biracial cousins who are younger than they are, but it is a common occurrence that I have only ever seen mentioned in Kate Hannigan's The Cupcake Cousins. I really liked Claire's network of support and how it manages to extend to help Ronan. With such an appealing cover, this will never be on the shelves.
Weaknesses: I saw another review that was a bit surprised at the cell phone and social media use-- unfortunately, it seemed very similar to what I notice my students having and using.
What I really think: Definitely looking forward to seeing what Ms. Walker writes next!

Delle Donne, Elena. Full-Court Press (Hoops #2)
June 12th 2018 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

As the school year continues, Elle has a lot of activities planned, she's playing basketball, enjoying her new dog, Zobe, and trying to keep up with homework. At the suggestion of one of her teammates, she starts volunteering at a special needs program, and she would like to spend time with her friends and family. She finds that she is struggling with basketball-- she's not doing the good job she normally does, and she doesn't have an explanation for her slump. She is falling behind in her school work, since it's often past 10 p.m. when she even gets a chance to start it. It's even hard to squeeze in visits with her sister Beth and walks with Zobe, whom she would like to train as a therapy dog. With her older brother getting ready to go to college, she struggles with finding a balance, and also someone to whom she can confide her struggles. Luckily, her best friend Avery is understanding, and eventually comes to the rescue and helps Elle get her schedule figured out.
Strengths: This had an excellent mix of realistic middle school struggles and basketball. It also has a lot of good interactions between Elle and her family, from already missing her brother, to wanting to help Beth, to having to explain her bad grades to her parents. The fact that she's in a basketball slump is a great plot line, and struggling to keep up with her friends is something I don't see much in middle grade. Add in the volunteer work-- I really like this series, and the fact that Elle also has a little crush on Amanda doesn't hurt at all!
Weaknesses: The cover is a bit young. My girls who want to read about basketball don't want books about younger kids, and the style of drawing makes this look a bit elementary. I'll hand sell it, of course, but a "tougher" cover would have sold itself.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, and can't wait for Out of Bounds in October.

Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. Adding Why Can't I Be You? to daughter's (and likely my) future wish list. I love these sorts of books that address the tween awkwardness when friends develop at different paces.