A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that here isn't much to worry about here on the sex, drugs, or language front. Evie and her new friend Francesca get up to some sneaky antics -- and end up hurting their teacher's feelings -- but their hearts are in the right place. Their teacher turns out to be a very good role model who imparts a powerful life lesson. It's a lesson that connects well with Evie's own growing interest and ability to be herself, without the rules of others.
What's the story?
Evie is at first embarrassed by her new neighbor Francesca, who dresses in blue stilettos and even impulsively runs through the sprinklers on their first day of school. But when they're paired together for an important school project, Evie gets swept up into Francesca's often fun world, which is more about weekend trips to the beach than school supply shopping. Evie, a good girl who has felt stifled by her two sensible best friends, enjoys this opportunity to reinvent herself -- but soon finds herself in over her head when she and Francesca start imagining a love life for their tough history teacher and forget all about their project.
Is it any good?
This is an author who certainly remembers what junior high felt like. Readers will understand Evie's desire to break free of her lifelong friendship with Nisha and Lily -- she loves them but feels trapped by the rules of their relationship and wants to be free to explore her identity. They'll also understand why she's drawn to Francesca, even though her free-spirited neighbor often bugs her ("How could you stay even a tiny bit mad at someone who gets who you really are? Or who you would be if you weren't afraid?").
Another great thing: In the end, no character is ultimately painted as good or bad. Evie is able to work things out with both her old friends -- and get through her problems with Francesca. And along the way, she even learns to start being her own person. This isn't a book with an outrageous plot or any big tragedies, but it's very grounded in reality and imparts gentle lessons about how both friendships -- and your own identity -- can always evolve.
Talk to your kids about ...
Evie is starting seventh grade, a time when kids often want to start experimenting with their identity a bit. Do you ever feel like Evie does: bored with your friends or trapped by the role you play in the dynamic? Or do you ever feel jealous when one of your friends starts hanging out with someone new? How do you and your friends work out problems like these when they arise?
Families can talk about the fact that Evie's sister studies all the time to be sure she gets into a good college, but Francesca says that "School is not the whole wide world." Who do you agree with?
Is there a way to balance the stuff you have to do with the stuff you want to do? How do you feel like the balance is going in your own life? What do you wish you had more time to do?
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