Sunday, November 27, 2022

Honey and Me

Drazin, Meira. Honey and Me
October 18th 2022 by Scholastic Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Milla and Honey have been friends for a long time, and there families spend a lot of time together sicne they attend the same synagogue. When Honey transfers to Milla's school because her mother wasn't happy with the education her autistic brother was receiving, Milla isn't as happy as she expected to be. Honey is better in school and apparently better at making friends, so the two are a bit at odds. There are plenty of other things going on in Milla's 6th grade year, however, including preparing for her bas mitzvah and for a speech competition. She likes her new teacher, Mr. Sandler, who likes some of the same books that Milla likes and is supportive of her aspirations. There are a lot of parties to attend, and Milla and her mother have a big difference of opinions when it comes to issues like the dresses she should wear. Like many children in 6th grade, Milla wants the opportunity to have the freedom to make her own mistakes; in one act of rebellion, Milla and Honey go to a local vintage store and buy outfits without asking permission. Milla's Aunt Steph supports her, but is 25 and recently involved with a man in the community, which makes Milla's mother happy, because she thinks that 25 is getting a bit old not to be married. As the school year continues, there are celebrations, school events, some sad occurences, and changes in the way that Milla relates to both her mother and to her best friend. 
Strengths: This had a great mix of family and friend drama with a lot of Jewish culture and tradition mixed in. There aren't too many books with children who attend religious schools, so seeing the classes that Milla and Honey took was interesting. Milla's conflict with her mother was realistic; the arguments over what is an appropriate dress for her bas mitzvah will speak to a lot of readers who can't get their mothers to understand that styles have changed since their mothers were young! A community death is handled well, and Milla and Honey are able to resolve their differences in a productive way. I appreciated the glossary at the back. 
Weaknesses: This was more character driven than a lot of middle grade books, and follows the standard plot of progressing through the school year. 
What I really think: There have been a lot of books lately with 6th grade protagonists that strike me as being written primarily for younger students. I'd love to see more middle grade books with 8th or 9th grade characters; even with the exact same plots and character exchanges, my students would be more apt to pick up books with older characters. This seemed a bit on the young side, although I can see my students picking this up because of the cover and hoping for a romance between the girls. I would buy this for an elementary school but will pass for my middle school. 

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