The Meaning of Maggie

Book review by
Joanna H. Kraus, Common Sense Media
The Meaning of Maggie Book Poster Image
Girl comes to terms with dad's illness in relatable tale.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn about multiple sclerosis and the impact it can have on the surrounding family as well as the patient.

Positive Messages

Maggie's family believes in "pulling  yourself up by your bootstraps." They deal daily with a tragic situation with courage and humor, and above all, love.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Maggie's as engaging an 11-year old as you're ever likely to meet. She plans to become President of the United States. Meanwhile, she enjoys learning and is an A student, winner of several awards.  Although she can be stubborn and opinionated, she's also thoroughly delightful. She adores sweet desserts and loves her family. Well, all except for her older sister, Tiffany, with whom she has to share a room.


Maggie's parents give her one share of Coca-Cola stock as a gift.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The adults smoke and have an occasional cocktail.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Meaning of Maggie is inspired in part by the author's experience living with a father who had multiple sclerosis. Written with warmth and humor, the novel -- written as 11-year old Maggie's memoir of the past year of her life -- has the unmistakable ring of authenticity. It centers on a working-class family's brave attempts to cope with an incurable neuromuscular disease and shield Maggie from its devastating reality. A portion of the proceeds of the sale of The Meaning of Maggie will be donated to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.


User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byRuth S. April 3, 2018

9+? Gah!

I recently read aloud this to my daughters, and it includes people spooning (making out on the couch, sleeping together on the family couch). Would have been be... Continue reading
Parent of a 1 and 8-year-old Written byDyana B. November 17, 2016

Be Careful

This is a great book for older kids who you have already had a conversation about sex with. THIS IS NOT FOR YOUNGER STUDENTS WITH ADVANCED READING SKILLS. On pg... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old October 7, 2014

Oh my gosh, best book ever!

This is an amazing book for tweens. It mad me laugh and cry. It was an intense story though, in an emotional way, and one of Maggie's sisters is found on t... Continue reading

What's the story?

Maggie's a super achiever, often student of the month and champion of last year's school science fair. But now her super-cool dad is in a wheelchair, has had to leave his job, and her mom has had to go to work. But Maggie doesn't understand why, and no one will explain. When she discovers that her father has multiple sclerosis, she naively resolves to "fix it." On her 12th birthday, her dad's rushed to the hospital. As painful as this is, she finally accepts the knowledge that the problem's not going to go away and that she and her family will face it bravely.

Is it any good?

In THE MEANING OF MAGGIE, author Megan Jean Sovern has taken a difficult topic and made it accessible. Told from Maggie's point of view in the guise of a memoir of her past year, the story's filled with warmth, humor, and a loving, caring family. It will engage readers who appreciate a spunky, temperamental protagonist, and will resonate especially those who've experienced a disability within their family and must confront it with courage.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can discuss how a family member's disability has an impact on the entire family. Has anyone in your family come down with an illness and become disabled? How did it make you feel? 

  • Using media resources, investigate how scientists have discovered a way to stop the spread of a specific disease or even to cure it. How did they conduct research and experiments? How long did the process take? What would you like to find a cure for?

  • Start to keep a journal. Include your thoughts about friends, school, the place where you live, your own triumphs and disasters and your wishes for the year(s) ahead.

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Coming-of-age books and family stories

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