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“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
Summary: Kirsten McKenna and Walker "Walk" Jones are friends. Kirsten is angry at her long-time best friend, Rory, for being friends with Brianna, the private school's "queen bee." According to Rory, she must choose between the populars and (her words) “the poor kids." As for Walk, his mom Sylvia expects a lot of her son, especially now that he is in a mostly white school. She doesn’t want Walk to be a bad boy like his cousin Jamal. Through a series of misunderstandings and plots to harm others, Kirsten and Walk discover something that shocks both of them. As things then get more complicated, Kirsten has to heal the on-off relationships between characters. This middle grade novel is told from two perspectives in alternating chapters. This is better suited as a high interest / low readability option for middle school students than for elementary audiences.
Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 10 to 14; read yourself: 9 and up
Young Reader Reaction: I enjoyed the book, but didn’t love it. Its ongoing and suspenseful plot kept to turning the pages. The main characters’ feelings were enhanced by their realization of who they are, and the striking differences between them and other people. A lot of the concepts mentioned in this book are related to family problems. The parents fight, the kids worry, then everybody lives happily ever after. My favorite part of the story was when Kirsten’s dad Mac, told her that she could fix things. She didn’t believe in herself throughout the book, but with the trust of her dad, Kirsten really thought she could do it. And she did. I recommend this book to readers who love a good story about family history secrets. Also, if you enjoy reading the kinds of things popular girls in schools do their classmates, then this book is for you too.
Adult Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Pros: Because the story is told by the two main characters, readers get different perspectives of what's happening. That adds to the suspense and keeps you turning pages!
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. The dual-perspective narration and suspense make it a fun read. It's just not one where the characters become your friends forever.
Educational Themes: There are lots of topics to explore with preteens and teens, especially as it relates to judging others and how we choose to treat them. It also gives parents a chance to talk about how to handle secrets - especially ones that aren't yours to tell.
Notes: A Reading Tub® volunteer submitted this review. She borrowed the book from the local library.