Friday, August 9, 2019

Review: You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly

Funny and poignant, You Go First by 2018 Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly is an engaging exploration of family, spelling, art, bullying, and the ever-complicated world of middle school friendships. Erin Entrada Kelly’s perfectly pitched tween voice will resonate with fans of Kate DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale and Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out and Back Again.

 Twelve-year-old Charlotte Lockard and eleven-year-old Ben Boxer are separated by more than a thousand miles. On the surface, their lives seem vastly different—Charlotte lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while Ben is in the small town of Lanester, Louisiana. Charlotte wants to be a geologist and keeps a rock collection in her room. Ben is obsessed with Harry Potter, presidential history, and recycling. But the two have more in common than they think. They’re both highly gifted. They’re both experiencing family turmoil. And they both sit alone at lunch.

 Over the course of a week, Charlotte and Ben—online friends connected only by a Scrabble game—will intersect in unexpected ways as they struggle to navigate the turmoil of middle school. You Go First reminds us that no matter how hard it is to keep our heads above troubled water, we never struggle alone.

The acclaimed author of Blackbird Fly, The Land of Forgotten Girls, and Hello, Universe writes with an authentic, humorous, and irresistible voice. This engaging and character-driven story about growing up and finding your place in the world will appeal to fans of Rebecca Stead and Rita Williams-Garcia.

Paperback, 288 pages
 Published April 10th, 2018
 by Greenwillow Books

I was first introduced to Erin Entrada Kelly with her Newberry award-winning book Hello, Universe. I loved her writing, her likable characters, and prose that kept me entertained.

You Go First touches on many relevant social issues - bullying, acceptance, divorce, and health that showed the struggle kids go through and how they dealt with them. With feelings of loneliness, guilt, and fear this book brings these issues to lite. This isn't a doom and gloom read, with the middle-grade reader as its targeted audience this adult found it comical at times, with an authentic plot and entertaining.

I can’t say if all issues are resolved by the end of the book, but then in real life it is a process, it’s the self-discovery and confidence that propels one forward a step at a time.

Definitely a book and author I recommend.

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