A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Well, That Was Awkward, by Rachel Vail, (Justin Case), is a text-message rom-com update of the classic 19th century Cyrano de Bergerac story, in which smart, funny, large-nosed Gracie helps pretty but shy Sienna communicate with a boy she likes. A sibling's death plays a role in Gracie's emotional life. Eighth grade gossip and micro-managing dominates this book, in which parts of the story are told entirely in text messages. For a tween romance set in a big city, there is precious little swearing, sex, or violence in this story. Instead, the who-likes-who plot is a vehicle for larger lessons about friendship, humor, self-image, freedom, finding a voice, and coping with grief.
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What's the story?
In WELL, THAT WAS AWKWARD, Gracie Grant is the smart, funny, loud, large-nosed friend to adorable Sienna Reyes. AJ Rojanasopondist, the sleek, athletic eighth-grader, who makes Gracie's heart do flip-flops, likes Sienna, but Sienna is too shy to text him. So Gracie steps in and lends Sienna a hand in the savvy text department. A sly romantic tangle ensues until friendships are strained and a painful family secret comes to light.
Is it any good?
This entertaining teen-texting melodrama addresses deeper issues of self-love, grief, real friendship, and fitting in. Well, That Was Awkward gives pitch-perfect voice to a multicultural group of school friends who live in New York City. The Loud Crowd is what the popular kids call themselves, and Gracie and her closest friends Sienna, Emmett, and AJ hover on the periphery of the top level, which lends the story a tension that feels believable. Crushes, awkward behavior, and self-consciousness dominate their thoughts and texts. Because, eighth grade.
Vail does a deft job portraying Gracie as funny and ungainly, yet true to herself. She strives to be comfortable in her own skin, which is a fantastic message for tween girls. Gracie and Sienna are aware that girls insult themselves more than boys do, and then make a pact to stop insulting themselves. Can we please have more of that in contemporary media? As Gracie would say, #togetherness. When everything seems to go wrong, and her phone goes silent, Gracie's depth of emotion feels real. No one wants to be left out. That dark spot, however, makes the fairy tale ending very satisfying.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what lengths kids go to in order to be liked or desired in Well, That Was Awkward. Would you let yourself be pushed into taking a revealing selfie to get someone's attention? How do you know when to draw the line?
Can you think of instances in movies or TV shows when underdogs throw shade on a bully? What would you do if you saw a popular kid bullying an outcast kid?
How do Gracie's friends help her love herself no matter what? Do your friends help you feel good about yourself?
- Author: Rachel Vail
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, Middle School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: February 28, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 17
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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