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Merci Suárez Changes Gears

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Thoughtful, strong-willed sixth-grader Merci Suarez navigates difficult changes with friends, family, and everyone in between in a resonant new novel from Meg Medina. Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older Thoughtful, strong-willed sixth-grader Merci Suarez navigates difficult changes with friends, family, and everyone in between in a resonant new novel from Meg Medina. Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren't going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately — forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. No one in her family will tell Merci what's going on, so she’s left to her own worries, while also feeling all on her own at school. In a coming-of-age tale full of humor and wisdom, award-winning author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school — and the steadfast connection that defines family.


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Thoughtful, strong-willed sixth-grader Merci Suarez navigates difficult changes with friends, family, and everyone in between in a resonant new novel from Meg Medina. Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older Thoughtful, strong-willed sixth-grader Merci Suarez navigates difficult changes with friends, family, and everyone in between in a resonant new novel from Meg Medina. Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren't going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately — forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. No one in her family will tell Merci what's going on, so she’s left to her own worries, while also feeling all on her own at school. In a coming-of-age tale full of humor and wisdom, award-winning author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school — and the steadfast connection that defines family.

30 review for Merci Suárez Changes Gears

  1. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    3.5 stars roundup A middle grade novel with plenty of heart, Merci Suarez Changes Gears is the kind of novel that young readers with large extended family will gravitate towards. Heartwarming is not a word I use too often in my reviews, but it is certainly warranted in regards to this book. Like Merci, I was close to my grandparents and even lived with my paternal grandparents for a time when I was a teenager. I loved the author's note too.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Juli

    Sixth grade is a tough year for every child. As a scholarship student at an expensive academy, it's even tougher for Merci Suarez. Not only does she have to learn to endure middle school where she doesn't always feel she fits in with her classmates, but she also has to start growing up and facing changes. Not just changes in herself, but changes in her family as well. Her brother is getting ready to leave for college and her grandfather is showing symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. It's a time of Sixth grade is a tough year for every child. As a scholarship student at an expensive academy, it's even tougher for Merci Suarez. Not only does she have to learn to endure middle school where she doesn't always feel she fits in with her classmates, but she also has to start growing up and facing changes. Not just changes in herself, but changes in her family as well. Her brother is getting ready to leave for college and her grandfather is showing symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. It's a time of change and lessons to learn. Merci Suarez faces them with strength and intelligence. I'm really impressed by the selection of children's books published by Candlewick Press. Every book I have read has just been outstanding! Merci Suarez Changes Gears touches on some major topics for middle school girls -- the end of childhood, growing up, taking more responsibility, seeing grandparents age, the pain of older siblings leaving home, learning to love and care for smaller children in the family, and just the joys and stress of living with extended family. This book is heart-felt, emotional and completely awesome! Merci learns to think of others and grows up a bit, while learning to live in her own skin and love the person she is. Wonderful story! Meg Medina has written several books for the YA and middle grade audience. I will definitely be reading more by this author! **I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this book from Candlewick Press via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

  3. 5 out of 5

    Edie

    I loved every minute of my time with Merci and her family a large loving multi-generational family facing the changes in Merci's beloved Lolo, the person in the family who seems to understand her the most. Merci and her brother are the scholarship kids at their private school and she often feels like an outsider, especially around an overbearing classmate. But she holds her own. There is lots of spanish naturally interspersed in this book as it is in Merci's life. Her teachers are demanding but I loved every minute of my time with Merci and her family a large loving multi-generational family facing the changes in Merci's beloved Lolo, the person in the family who seems to understand her the most. Merci and her brother are the scholarship kids at their private school and she often feels like an outsider, especially around an overbearing classmate. But she holds her own. There is lots of spanish naturally interspersed in this book as it is in Merci's life. Her teachers are demanding but well realized as are her classmates, whose roles are small but who are individuals too. There are disappointments, a soccer team she can't join because of soccer obligations but some triumphs too even if small (getting her team to add collage to their clay map).

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    I enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to people who like realistic fiction. HOWEVER, that being said, this book should not have won the Newbery. It was not "distinguished" or "memorable" in any way. It was a nice, quick read and I enjoyed it, but. The Newbery committee can make some... interesting choices.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Wendi Lee

    Merci hates change, but sixth grade means other kids are starting to act differently (why are the girls giggling around the boys). She’s paired with a new boy in the Sunshine Club, which gives mean girl Edna ammunition to tease Merci relentlessly. And then there’s Merci’s grandfather, Lolo, who is changing in ways that none of Merci’s family wants to talk about. I loved this middle grade novel, which perfectly captures what it feels like to be a tween in a large extended family, maneuvering thro Merci hates change, but sixth grade means other kids are starting to act differently (why are the girls giggling around the boys). She’s paired with a new boy in the Sunshine Club, which gives mean girl Edna ammunition to tease Merci relentlessly. And then there’s Merci’s grandfather, Lolo, who is changing in ways that none of Merci’s family wants to talk about. I loved this middle grade novel, which perfectly captures what it feels like to be a tween in a large extended family, maneuvering through middle school. Life is not fair, and change is relentless, but Merci learns that her family will always be there for her and each other. I also felt tenderly toward Lolo. My own grandfather, who lived with us and was like my second father, also suffered from Alzheimer’s. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an arc.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Shenwei

    Captures the essence of middle school perfectly: the troubles of fitting in among, the frustration of butting heads with your parents, puberty and the confusing aspects of people around you developing crushes and acting weird. It also tackles classism and the experience of being poor in an environment where everyone else is rich and the alienation that comes with it. I loved or loved to hate the characters and watching Merci grow was satisfying.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Phil Jensen

    This is really two books. The first book is the story of a sixth grader whose feelings are mildly bruised because the popular girls don't pay enough attention to her. This is a familiar formula. While Medina executes it with more grace than, say, R.J. Palacio, the thing that she misses is stakes. The popular girls are no real threat. The consequence of their meanness is a slight downtick in Merci's self-image. The second book is more interesting and unusual. It is about a girl's changing relations This is really two books. The first book is the story of a sixth grader whose feelings are mildly bruised because the popular girls don't pay enough attention to her. This is a familiar formula. While Medina executes it with more grace than, say, R.J. Palacio, the thing that she misses is stakes. The popular girls are no real threat. The consequence of their meanness is a slight downtick in Merci's self-image. The second book is more interesting and unusual. It is about a girl's changing relationship with her family, especially as they cope with her grandfather's Alzheimer's. Medina's description of the family dynamics felt real. There are no bad guys or incompetents in this family- just people who love each other and are struggling a bit under the pressures of life. I was much more invested in this part of the book, and I wish it wasn't sandwiched inside a formulaic fish out of water story. I have a lot of issues with the last paragraph I don’t know what is going to happen next year, no one does. But that’s OK. I can handle it, I decide. It’s just a harder gear, and I am ready. All I have to do is take a deep breath and ride. These are the closing lines of the book. It's well-written, but it doesn't fit the 300+ pages that went before it. Merci's struggle is not uncertainty about what will happen next year; nor is it lack of confidence that she can handle life. Merci's struggles are revolve around honesty with her family members, being accepted as a teenager by her family members, and learning that she doesn't need to be so intimidated by popular girls. None of this is reflected in this paragraph. It feels like Medina wrote something that sounded nice and tacked it on for some cheap sentiment. The bike metaphor is also misplaced. Merci does not struggle with changing gears on her bike; she struggles with wanting a new bike. Suddenly, in the last three sentences, the metaphor is changing gears? That's like if you got to the last 20 pages of Moby-Dick, or, the Whale and Melville said, "Actually, it was a marlin all along." Bleh. One more thing- just taking a deep breath and riding is not the lesson Merci needs to learn. If anything, she does that way too much and takes others for granted. She needs to slow the heck down and pay more attention to her impact on others.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sam Bloom

    SUCH a great book. Well-deserving of the recent Newbery!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Monica Edinger

    Lovely spot-on middle grade featuring a close extended Cuban-American family, a realistic middle school, and a warm story. Merci is a delightful character to spend time with along with her friends and family.

  10. 5 out of 5

    The Reading Countess

    Listen, people. I’m as big of a fan of shouting SURPRISE! at a party as the next person, but the next time we announce the Newbery, can someone PLEASE put the winner on my radar beforehand? I mean, I like to look like I can pick a winner and that I like to read books for middle grade readers because...you know what? I can and I do. But I was fooled, ya’ll. And my heart hasn’t stopped beating ninety to nothing since everyone jumped out of the dark corners of the party and shouted SURPRISE! Plucky Listen, people. I’m as big of a fan of shouting SURPRISE! at a party as the next person, but the next time we announce the Newbery, can someone PLEASE put the winner on my radar beforehand? I mean, I like to look like I can pick a winner and that I like to read books for middle grade readers because...you know what? I can and I do. But I was fooled, ya’ll. And my heart hasn’t stopped beating ninety to nothing since everyone jumped out of the dark corners of the party and shouted SURPRISE! Plucky main (girl) character who has what educators like to call grit nowadays? Yup. Cool, smart, older brother who is the kind of bro we all would want? Uh huh. Close knit, down-to-earth Hispanic family dealing with an abuelo whose “remember me,” as my youngest son used to call it, is finking out on him? Check. Throw in one ritzy private school setting where you’re the main character on scholarship, a mean girl or two, the natural, yet confusing, blossoming interest issues between the guys and girls in sixth grade (woo-ooo-ooo), and you’ve got the reason why people were shouting SURPRISE for this year’s Newbery. Good on you, Meg Medina, good on you.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alex (not a dude) Baugh

    Eleven-year-old Cuban American Merci Suárez lives in the Palm Beach area of Florida with her parents, and her very smart brother Roli, 17. Right next to them live their Abuela and Abuelo, called Lolo, and right next to them lives Tia Inéz, with her young twins, Axel and Tomás. The three identical houses are affectionately called Las Casitas by Merci's mother. Roli and Merci are scholarship students at a private school. Since their dad and Lolo are painters, some of their tuition is paid for in wo Eleven-year-old Cuban American Merci Suárez lives in the Palm Beach area of Florida with her parents, and her very smart brother Roli, 17. Right next to them live their Abuela and Abuelo, called Lolo, and right next to them lives Tia Inéz, with her young twins, Axel and Tomás. The three identical houses are affectionately called Las Casitas by Merci's mother. Roli and Merci are scholarship students at a private school. Since their dad and Lolo are painters, some of their tuition is paid for in work they do at the school. Because Roli is so smart, he's pretty much left alone, but sixth-grader Merci is required to do some community service in school, and so she is assigned to the Sunshine Buddies Club. It's her job to be a mentor to Michael Clark, a new kid in school who has just moved to Florida from Minnesota. Naturally, Merci's nemesis, rich mean girl Edna Santos, really likes Michael and does everything she can think of to make it difficult for Merci to be a buddy to him. That isn't hard, since Merci doesn't want to be his buddy anyway. What Merci does want is to make some money for a new bike and to tryout for the school's soccer team. Unfortunately, neither one seem to be possible for her. She has to watch the twins after school while Tia Inéz goes to work, for free, because as Merci says "When it comes to helping, the motto around here is family or bust." On top of that, her beloved Lolo has been acting oddly lately and getting very forgetful, and no one in the family will answer any of Merci's questions about it. Family policy is to always be truthful and honest with each other, with no secrets, but that is definitely not the case here and Merci is scared for Lolo, especially when she's asked by him not to mention anything that might happen when they are together - like a fall from his bike. Medina has written what I thought was a real-true-to-life coming of age story. Merci is at a transitional age, no longer a child, but not yet a teen, yet she has a lot to grapple with in this novel. She finds middle school difficult, with more intense homework and the pressure to keep up her grades as a scholarship student, and it seems that everyone around her changed over the summer vacation, except her. Now they are interested in boys, and Merci still wants to play soccer and ride her bike. But Merci also has a close-knit family who do what they can to support each other, even if money is tight and some things don't come easy. And it's a good thing, because they are going to need all the love and support a family can give in the future. Merci Suárez Changes Gears is a wonderfully realistic novel about the complications of preteen life and learning to come to grips with the fact that sometimes life just isn't fair and being in middle school doesn't help. This book is recommended for readers age 9+ This book was an ARC received from the publisher, Candlewick Press

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    Merci attends a private school by doing "community service." Her friend is jealous of her assignment since Merci is assigned to help the friend's "crush." At the same time, Merci's grandfather Lolo, to whom she is quite close, is declining rapidly due to Alzheimer's Disease, and Merci doesn't really understand what is going on due to the family's decision to keep her in the dark. It's a coming-of-age tale which may appeal to middle school readers at the moment but probably lacks an enduring qual Merci attends a private school by doing "community service." Her friend is jealous of her assignment since Merci is assigned to help the friend's "crush." At the same time, Merci's grandfather Lolo, to whom she is quite close, is declining rapidly due to Alzheimer's Disease, and Merci doesn't really understand what is going on due to the family's decision to keep her in the dark. It's a coming-of-age tale which may appeal to middle school readers at the moment but probably lacks an enduring quality. Additional editing would shorten and make the story stronger. The author includes some common Spanish words in the story which are not translated for the reader. I suspect many middle school readers, particularly in Southern and Southwestern States with many Mexican and Central American immigrants, will not need a Spanish dictionary nearby, but I anticipate it might create problems for those with little exposure to the Spanish language. The book probably works best for middle schoolers with family members suffering from dementia. I received an advance e-galley in exchange for an honest review through the publisher via NetGalley.

  13. 4 out of 5

    steph

    This book has been on my radar for awhile. In fact I even checked it out a few months ago and then returned it to the library unread, three weeks later because I never got around to reading it. But when I heard it won the 2019 Newberry Award, I knew I had to make more of an effort to read it. And so I decided to listen to the audiobook on my weekly commute into work. First things first, I love Merci and her family. Merci is such a relateable girl, from her worries about her grandfather to her dea This book has been on my radar for awhile. In fact I even checked it out a few months ago and then returned it to the library unread, three weeks later because I never got around to reading it. But when I heard it won the 2019 Newberry Award, I knew I had to make more of an effort to read it. And so I decided to listen to the audiobook on my weekly commute into work. First things first, I love Merci and her family. Merci is such a relateable girl, from her worries about her grandfather to her dealings with the kids at school to her relationship with her brother and cousins. I really enjoyed her thought process and the way she relates to things. The secondary characters in here are great and I especially loved how involved all the adults are in this book. From her parents to her teachers to her aunt to her grandparents, etc. They all are shaping Merci into a person who is empathetic, kind and helpful. I really loved Merci’s close relationship with her grandfather, Lolo and their interactions together. The only thing I found annoying about this book, and why I knocked it down a star was the fact that (view spoiler)[Merci was kept in the dark about her grandfather’s diagnosis for so long. We, the readers, realize that her grandfather has Alzheimer’s MANY pages before Merci is let in on the family secret and I found that knowledge was draining on the story for a bit. But dang, Merci’s anger towards the adults in her family at being kept in the dark was so well done. Some really great scenes were written in the aftermath of finding out so I am not too upset. (hide spoiler)] I also liked Merci’s interactions with the mean/popular girl of the 6th grade, Edna. Edna wasn’t a spoiled one dimensional caricature, instead she was shown to be just as real and relateable as Merci is which is not something all authors can do in writing a character such as herself. I would actually love to read a sequel to this book set when the kids are all in high school because I believe that one day Merci and Edna might actually be friends, if both are willing to see past the exterior of the other. And also because I need to see if Michael Clark grows any taller. ****I listened to the audiobook performed by Frankie Corzo and it really added to my enjoyment of this novel. I am assuming she is a native Spanish speaker because her pronunciation and easy flow from Spanish-English and vice versa was really well done. I could imagine all the different characters in my mind through each scene as she spoke which is the mark of a good narrator. I would definitely listen to more audiobooks by her.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Leonard Kim

    This is likable. I hope I will be forgiven this rating, as I am not really being contrarian with respect to the Newbery. I didn't like the stereotypical characterizations of several secondary characters: Roli above all, but also characters like Edna, Miss McDaniels, and Ms. Tannenbaum. Those who know me know this is more of a pet peeve than a larger comment about the book’s quality. I have complained in the past about representations of STEM and high-achieving kids, and I guess I am also sensiti This is likable. I hope I will be forgiven this rating, as I am not really being contrarian with respect to the Newbery. I didn't like the stereotypical characterizations of several secondary characters: Roli above all, but also characters like Edna, Miss McDaniels, and Ms. Tannenbaum. Those who know me know this is more of a pet peeve than a larger comment about the book’s quality. I have complained in the past about representations of STEM and high-achieving kids, and I guess I am also sensitive to the representation of teachers and school staff, both the "good" and the not-so-good. Listened to audiobook.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Meg

    3.5 I have never seen the phrase “Uff da” used outside of my family before. It was amazing.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chessa

    I loved Merci Suarez! Meg Medina captures this transitional (middle grade) age so well - we were just playing with the boys last year, why are they suddenly at their own table and girls are...flirting with them, I guess?!? What gives! Medina tackles a lot of big issues here without overwhelming the reader - Merci’s family isn’t as well-off financially as some of the other kids at her private school, where she and her brother attend on scholarship. Her family is bigger than the typical American f I loved Merci Suarez! Meg Medina captures this transitional (middle grade) age so well - we were just playing with the boys last year, why are they suddenly at their own table and girls are...flirting with them, I guess?!? What gives! Medina tackles a lot of big issues here without overwhelming the reader - Merci’s family isn’t as well-off financially as some of the other kids at her private school, where she and her brother attend on scholarship. Her family is bigger than the typical American family and includes her Aunt and twin nephews and her grandparents; they all live together in a series of small casitas next to each other. The biggest central piece that the book revolves around is Lolo - Merci’s grandpa and number one best pal. But, Lolo has been acting differently lately - forgetting things, calling people by the wrong name, even getting angry about things that don’t seem like a big deal to Merci - and Medina handles the confusion about this situation so well. The feeling like the grown-ups are keeping Big Things from you as a kid (but I’m in middle school now!) - these feelings are so universal, but this story is definitely ground well in the particulars of Merci’s life. One of best drawn relationships of the book for me though was that between Merci and Edna, her kinda sorta frenemy. She is the head girl of Merci’s girl friend posse, and evvvvveryone follows her lead, much to Merci’s eternal confusion. The way Edna acts is so typical mean girl - we all knew some version of this girl - and yet Medina does such a good job of not making her a caricature. Merci is a great character; she just felt so real and true. I highly recommend this to all middle grade readers (and adults too)!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    There is something about middle school books and mean girls that just go together. And this book is no exception. But Merci is more than just another protagonist, fighting the good fight against the mean girls of the world. She is also a Cuban-American, who is living with her extended family in Florida, with her beloved grandparents, aunt, and twin cousins. I love how tight she is with her family, that she cares about them. That she wants to do right by them, despite not liking watching the twin There is something about middle school books and mean girls that just go together. And this book is no exception. But Merci is more than just another protagonist, fighting the good fight against the mean girls of the world. She is also a Cuban-American, who is living with her extended family in Florida, with her beloved grandparents, aunt, and twin cousins. I love how tight she is with her family, that she cares about them. That she wants to do right by them, despite not liking watching the twins all the time. She is proud of her grandmother who can sew anything, and often does. She loves her father's painting company, and is not ashamed of him for doing manual labor, while all her classmates' parents are doctors and lawyers and business executives. Merci is a down to earth girl, and you feel her problems and she is very real. And although there are Spanish words sprinkled throughout, they are always used in context, so you can usually figure out what she is talking about. And excellent read, and a good for inclusion, for children to see themselves in Merci. Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    DaNae

    Merci is what I know of sixth graders: Self-interested, generous, loud, tongue-tied, confidant and insecure. Throw in a loving and aggravating family, that spills back and forth between the three casitas, and you get a marvelous jumble of strong personalities that sometimes hinder, but mostly support each other.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Kelly

    Totally worthy of the award! Merci Suarez is a 6th grade scholarship student at an elite school. She constantly has to prove that she deserves to be there, while navigating friendship or "friendship" with other kids at school. The popular girl in school who is sometimes "friends" with Merci has it out for her...sometimes... and Merci is sick of all the boy crazy talk at school. She just wants to try out for Soccer. Meanwhile, at home, something is going on with her Grandfather, but NO ONE will tel Totally worthy of the award! Merci Suarez is a 6th grade scholarship student at an elite school. She constantly has to prove that she deserves to be there, while navigating friendship or "friendship" with other kids at school. The popular girl in school who is sometimes "friends" with Merci has it out for her...sometimes... and Merci is sick of all the boy crazy talk at school. She just wants to try out for Soccer. Meanwhile, at home, something is going on with her Grandfather, but NO ONE will tell her what is going on! He's lashing out in anger for nothing, forgetting things that he JUST said, and even keeping secrets - which is a BIG no-no in their family. She's at the age where she is expected to do all of these mature things, like babysitting, chores, helping the family; but not treated maturely. She is really frustrated. The character is SO relateable. She is NOT a Mary Sue. She gets angry, she want to get even. She lashes out. Yet, she WANTS to be a good person and she tries really hard and begins to learn how to navigate the changes that come as people (kids AND adults) get older. Highly recommended for upper elementary and middle school kids - especially those whose lives are changing.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    Everything’s changing for Merci Saurez entering sixth grade at the fancy Seaward Pines Academy, as a scholarship student. A universal story about the value of family, hard work, cultural traditions and the inevitability of change. Medina perfectly captures the mercurial mixed up butterflies in your stomach feelings that come with being eleven—all through the lens of a joyful (mostly) intergenerational Latino Family. 2019’s Newbery Award winner (just announced on Monday) deserves all the praise a Everything’s changing for Merci Saurez entering sixth grade at the fancy Seaward Pines Academy, as a scholarship student. A universal story about the value of family, hard work, cultural traditions and the inevitability of change. Medina perfectly captures the mercurial mixed up butterflies in your stomach feelings that come with being eleven—all through the lens of a joyful (mostly) intergenerational Latino Family. 2019’s Newbery Award winner (just announced on Monday) deserves all the praise and recognition it’s getting, and more. I love, love, loved it!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Just a heartrending reminder of what middle school girls are like... mean? you bet... add Merci's home situation and you have quite a story.. as I got to the end I now know why it received this year's Newbery award... stay strong Merci.....

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anna Karwowska

    Was reading it right when it was announced as the 2019 Newbery award winner!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Carol (Reading Ladies)

    4.5 stars...review coming soon

  24. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Yep, I cried! Nice family dynamics and I thought of my own grandparents with Alzheimer's. A great addition to the Newbery list.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Benji Martin

    Not disappointed at all. A very deserving Newbery champion.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Beth Honeycutt

    Close to 4.5 stars! I enjoyed getting to know Merci, her family, and friends. I also loved the sprinkling of Spanish throughout the book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kari

    This was nice! I wish I had read it before the awards. I like Meg Medina and she gets better and better with each book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Meira (readingbooksinisrael)

    *I received this book as an ARC but all thoughts and opinions are my own* This was a good book. Of course, it's from my self proclaimed favorite contemporary genre: MG; Latine-kid-has-life-changes-something-happens-with-grownup-they-rely-on. My favorite thing was that racism wasn’t the setting of this book. Of course, those experiences are important and real, and should be written about but I think it’s just as important to write stories where that is not the setting-where the characters are deali *I received this book as an ARC but all thoughts and opinions are my own* This was a good book. Of course, it's from my self proclaimed favorite contemporary genre: MG; Latine-kid-has-life-changes-something-happens-with-grownup-they-rely-on. My favorite thing was that racism wasn’t the setting of this book. Of course, those experiences are important and real, and should be written about but I think it’s just as important to write stories where that is not the setting-where the characters are dealing with other things, too. It wasn’t that it was totally ignored or not mentioned but it wasn’t the center of the book. Being Latine was normal. Another thing I liked was that when the school staff noticed the bullying Merci was undergoing they actually did something about it. Exactly because that’s so unrealistic it’s important to write (and for teachers’ to read). Something that other people have mentioned is the uncomfortable feeling of being poor when everybody around you is rich and the inability at times to communicate across that line that was written well in the book. The only thing I didn't like was that it was supposed to be Merci's second year in the school but it felt like she had been in the school a much shorter time-half a year at most. Definitely go get get this book. Especially if you know kids who are in the age range for it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jana

    I had the opportunity to read a NetGalley digital ARC of this middle grade fiction novel in exchange for this review. This book tells the story of sixth-grader, Merci Suarez, as she navigates the stresses at home and at school. At home, her grandfather keeps acting strangely and forgetting things, which makes it difficult for her family to take care of him and the younger children at the same time. At school, she has to deal with the changing tides of popularity, cliques, and the attention of bo I had the opportunity to read a NetGalley digital ARC of this middle grade fiction novel in exchange for this review. This book tells the story of sixth-grader, Merci Suarez, as she navigates the stresses at home and at school. At home, her grandfather keeps acting strangely and forgetting things, which makes it difficult for her family to take care of him and the younger children at the same time. At school, she has to deal with the changing tides of popularity, cliques, and the attention of boys. The author does a terrific job of presenting all of this in an entertaining, engaging, and relatable way for middle grade kids. According to the author’s note at the end of the book, she “wanted to celebrate grandparents and families that live intergenerationally, the way we often see in Latino families. But I also wanted to write about change in families. We all change, especially as we grow up, but adults change, too. And, as we all know, not every change is a good one.” Lolo, Merci’s grandfather, is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. As this disease progresses, his behavior becomes more erratic and unpredictable. The author captures the range of emotions that Merci experiences as this situation is revealed to her. I really enjoyed this book. I think that it hits some very important themes for middle grade kids – change both in terms of growing up and the way circumstances around us change both for good and bad. This is definitely going to be a popular book this year.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Hager

    Merci's life is very family-centric. Part of that is her choice (she loves her family, especially her grandparents) and part of that is the fact that she lives next door to her grandparents and two doors down from her aunt and twin cousins. (They are more than a handful and Merci has to babysit them a lot.) It's not that Merci minds babysitting them so much; it's more that it's expected of her and it also gets in the way of things she wants to do (like try out for soccer).  Another unfortunate th Merci's life is very family-centric. Part of that is her choice (she loves her family, especially her grandparents) and part of that is the fact that she lives next door to her grandparents and two doors down from her aunt and twin cousins. (They are more than a handful and Merci has to babysit them a lot.) It's not that Merci minds babysitting them so much; it's more that it's expected of her and it also gets in the way of things she wants to do (like try out for soccer).  Another unfortunate thing is that she's assigned to help a new student get adjusted to their school. And it's a boy. This wouldn't be so bad, except that most popular girl (Edna) likes him and views Merci as competition. (Merci couldn't be more clear about this not being the case.) This book shows what it's like when people are in different stages. Merci wants to play sports with the boys but a lot of the girls in her class are starting to think about maybe dating them. Also there's a lot of disparity with what different parents will let their children do. Edna's parents give her a lot of freedom and Merci had to go to so much trouble to get her parents to let her go to the movies without adult supervision but with an entire group of kids. (And it was more a worry about their safety and not how annoying this gaggle of tweens would be to everyone else in the theater. I know I'm old; I'll show myself out.) But the biggest problem is how her grandfather, Lolo, is starting to get forgetful and his usually easygoing nature sometimes switches into a Jekyll and Hyde thing. It seems like the whole family has noticed but no one's talking about it and everyone's pretending it's fine. Merci isn't sure what's going on, but definitely doesn't like it. This is such an important book. I think a lot of young readers could relate to one or multiple aspects of the story. Merci seems to feel unappreciated and overlooked sometimes, but she also feels left behind.  This is a sweet but also excellent story. Highly recommended.

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