Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone
By Amanda Nojadera,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Powerful, emotional novel tackles bullying and friendship.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers will learn about science, space, and aliens.
Friendship, kindness, forgiveness, curiosity, and courage are important themes. Actions speak louder than words. How you treat people is important and how you treat yourself also matters. Know that you'll make mistakes but trust yourself to fix them. Do the right thing and stop bullying when you see it.
Positive Role Models
The characters are smart, curious, and confident. They learn from their mistakes, forgive each other, and try to be better people.
Mallory is Korean American and Jennifer is Chinese American. Kath is Black and Jewish. They attend a mostly White Christian private school.
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Violence & Scariness
Characters are bullied at school. Characters make fun of the new girl for her haircut and clothing and her interest in aliens and capoeira (an Afro-Brazilian fighting form). Girls take photos of another character without her consent and use them to make fun of her. Characters corner a girl in the bathroom and ruin an important item of hers. A 12-year-old girl drives a car and crashes into a mailbox. A girl runs away from home, is missing for several days, and later falls from a radio tower.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters talk about their crushes.
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Characters use mild insults like "dang," "jerk," and "stupid." Kids spread a rumor that at her old school Jennifer "karate-chopped" a boy. Microaggressions include calling all Asians "Japanese."
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Products & Purchases
Brands mentioned include TikTok and Facebook.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone, by Newbery Medal winner Tae Keller (When You Trap a Tiger), is a powerful and emotional novel that tackles bullying and friendship. Courage, curiosity, kindness, and forgiveness are important themes. Characters make fun of the new girl for her haircut and clothing and for her interest in aliens and capoeira. Girls take photos of another character without her consent and use them to make fun of her. Characters corner a girl in the bathroom and ruin an important item of hers. A 12-year-old girl drives a car and crashes into a mailbox. A girl runs away from home, is missing for several days, and later falls from a radio tower. Mild insults include "dang," "jerk," and "stupid."
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
In JENNIFER CHAN IS NOT ALONE, 12-year-old Mallory Moss knows that fitting in is the key to surviving middle school. And thanks to her friends Reagan and Tess, Mallory knows what is and isn't cool. But over the summer, Mallory befriends her new neighbor, Jennifer Chan, who believes in aliens and is determined to find them. Although the two girls bonded during the summer, Mallory watches as her classmates make fun of Jennifer and occasionally participates in the bullying. When Jennifer goes missing, Mallory questions if she and her friends are the reason Jennifer ran away. Using clues from Jennifer's notebooks, Mallory and a few former friends search for their missing classmate, learning more about themselves, their friends, and aliens.
Is It Any Good?
Tae Keller's powerful and emotional coming-of-age novel about bullying and friendship is a must-read for tweens. Being the new kid in school is hard, but even more so when people alienate you because of your passions and interests. However, Jennifer is a breath of fresh air. She's confident and unafraid to be herself even when others pretend to be her friend.
Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone brilliantly alternates between Mallory's past and present perspectives, providing several instances of Mallory feeling uncomfortable with all the bullying. Readers will feel frustrated when she chooses to stay silent, but they'll love when she finally takes ownership of her behavior and learns that actions speak louder than words. As Mallory searches for Jennifer and questions what it means to be a good person, kids will see the importance of courage, curiosity, kindness, and forgiveness as she makes amends with herself and others.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about bullying in Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone. How does this issue affect the characters?
Why are books about middle school so popular? What's important about that time in a kid's life?
Do you ever feel different or left out? When? Do you think others in your class or school feel that way? What can you do to help them feel included?
How do the kids demonstrate courage and curiosity? Why are these important character strengths?
- Author: Tae Keller
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Friendship, Middle School, Space and Aliens
- Character Strengths: Courage, Curiosity
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: April 26, 2022
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 288
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: September 20, 2022
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Where to Read
Our Editors Recommend
Books to Help Your Kid Survive Middle School
Books About Bullying
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