A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Cultural, geographical and emotional educational content can be found here. Embedding Spanish language in the text encourages readers to look up phrases they might now know.
Stay true to yourself and your family. Take risks. Get out there and make new friends. Don't let false friends get you down. You can do hard things. Be grateful for what you've got. Look inwards, not outwards to find what's important. Sometimes there's a solution waiting around the corner. Look for the hidden mysteries. Enjoy life -- you only get one chance! In some communities, everyone helps everyone. You are not alone.
Positive Role Models
Adults in this series are very involved in kids' lives. The Suárez family is extremely tightly knit. Merci understands how much sacrifice is made for her happiness and well-being: It's just the way things are done in her world. A school counsellor provides support and assistance for kids in need.
The Suárez family is Cuban American, and they have friends and family from all walks of life and different class situations. This book is written from a Latino perspective, and it embraces and celebrates the Latin American experience.
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Violence & Scariness
Illness and death are components of the story.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens kiss and hold hands.
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Things "suck." "Embrace the suck."
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Products & Purchases
Product references make a decent showing in this book: Forever 21, Lululemon, Lush, Anthropoplogie, Red Bull, Sears, BTS, Instagram, Walgreens, Alberto V05, Clairol, Alka Seltzer, Milk Duds, Marshall's, LEGO, Dollar Store, Disney World, Honda, Visine, Twinkie, Busch Gardens, Dorito's, Coke, Google, Dropbox, Gatorade, Nike, Ripley's Believe It Or Not, Harry Potter references.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Merci's father drinks beer with dinner.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Merci Suárez Plays It Cool is the final book in the Merci Suárez trilogy by Newberry Honor winner Meg Medina. In this book, Merci is in eighth grade, dealing with peer pressure to throw friends under the bus. There's kissing, hand holding, coping with a loved-one's illness and his downturns. Lots of fantastic cultural references and celebration of heritage to be found in this book. Expect a moderate amount of reference to consumer goods, which are used to illustrate the middle school experience. Teens kiss and hold hands. Illness and death are components of the story.
Is It Any Good?
Moments of true poetry pepper the pages of the final book of the Merci Suárez trilogy. In Merci Suárez Plays It Cool, Merci is immersed in the Cuban American experience befitting a girl her age. Readers are treated to the feel of tight plastic loafers from Sears and the tragic taste of Abuela's arroz con pollo as it cools into a paste on the patio table. Merci's holding tight to the things that run through her veins, while exploring the new, exciting opportunities that are rolling out in front of her. The big issues of aging, illness, independence, identity, and community are beautifully addressed in this story.
Though there are some characters who don't feel fully developed (girls in her friend group feel interchangeable), and a subplot about her cousin's deadbeat dad feels supplemental, the tender, very human moments that hit home, truly hit the mark. Overall, this book serves to complete a series that tells the enriching story about a lovable girl and her family who are making their way through small triumphs and big challenges.
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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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