author : rebecca stead
pages : [hardcover] 289
favorite character : bridge
Bridge is an accident survivor who’s wondering why she’s still alive. Emily has new curves and an almost-boyfriend who wants a certain kind of picture. Tabitha sees through everybody’s games—or so she tells the world. The three girls are best friends with one rule: No fighting. Can it get them through seventh grade?
This year everything is different for Sherm Russo as he gets to know Bridge Barsamian. What does it mean to fall for a girl—as a friend?
On Valentine’s Day, an unnamed high school girl struggles with a betrayal. How long can she hide in plain sight?
I really, really liked this book and was so surprised that I did. When I first opened it, I’d forgotten most of the premise so dove right into it and was a little disappointed to see how young the characters were supposed to be. Lately I haven’t had any luck with middle grades. But, here, Rebecca Stead has created a beautiful book that I feel will be enjoyed by people of several age groups. At 22, I certainly enjoyed this one.
It speaks about so many important issues faced by students today. Betrayal in friendships. Peer pressure. Fighting to let go of the past. Sometimes these things are more intense–like Bridge getting hit by a car and nearly dying at the start of the book, or Emily being pressured by a fellow seventh grader to send her pictures in her underwear. It’s scary just because I know these things really happen and, looking back, seventh grade seems so young. But I know that girls will do so many things just to feel accepted, or to please a boy they like, or just because they’re confident about themselves. Which leads me to another thing I really loved about the subplot of Emily’s dilemma: she discussed how adults wanted her to feel ashamed of herself, when really she still loved herself. Which is perfect.
Even though this book kind of has a little bit of everything, with two different storylines going on, it worked. I was slightly confused about why the “high school girl” narrator needed to remain anonymous. I wanted to know who she was, but because of the age difference it was obvious that her situation was removed from the three middle school girls. It was interesting to see those chapters written in second person, though, and the writing was beautiful here too.
I really liked this book and would recommend it to anyone. I feel like it stretches across such a wide age group that a lot of people could enjoy it. This also brings up important issues, so it could bring some awareness or discussion to them.