The kids in the story all have such distinct personalities. There's Ruth, the quiet girl with her books, observing others but not interacting very often. Lena is the flamboyant girl with her own style and is not afraid to express her opinions and stand up for herself and others. The brainy guy, Lucas, who can't help but answer any question and spews facts. Coco (Christopher) is the all around good student; he gets good grades, gets along with everyone, and is genuinely nice. You get the idea - you've probably encountered people with similar traits. And the constant put-downs, physical harassment, and emotional manipulation of Melinda are also a familiar part of middle school.
This book would appeal to lots of different readers: those who like friendship stories will enjoy seeing Ruth move on and begin to let people in; those who like school stories will the classroom scenes and the spelling bee; those who enjoy mystery will like the riddles and the quest to solve them. I think it would make a wonderful book to read a chapter or two a day to a fifth grade class and let them imagine what they might do if their sixth grade year had some of the same situations in it.
Highly recommended for all middle grade readers. Fans of Chasing Vermeer and similar books will love this.
I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. For more details about the author, visit her website. Here is the information NetGalley provided about her:
MEGAN FRAZER BLAKEMORE is the author of The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill and The Water Castle, which was listed as a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year, a Bank Street Best Book of the Year, and as a New York Public Library Best Book for Reading and Sharing. She is also the author of the young adult novel Secrets of Truth and Beauty which received a starred review inPublishers Weekly and was on the ALA Rainbow list. A former middle-school librarian, Megan lives in Maine with her family.