by Jennifer Maschari
Expected publication August 22, 2017
Balzer and Bray
Review copy provided by publisher
Emily Murphy is about to enter middle school. She’s sort of excited… though not nearly as much as her best friend Hazel, who is ready for everything to be new. Emily wishes she and Hazel could just continue on as they always have, being the biggest fans ever of the Unicorn Chronicles, making up dance moves, and getting their regular order at The Slice.
But things are changing. At home, Emily and her mom are learning to move on after her parents’ divorce. Hardest of all, her beloved sister Mina has been in a treatment facility to deal with her anorexia. Emily is eager to have her back, but anxious about her sister getting sick again.
Hazel is changing too. She has new friends from the field hockey team, is starting to wear makeup, and have crushes on boys. Emily is trying to keep up, but she keeps doing and saying the wrong thing. She want to be the perfect new Emily. But who is that really?
Things That Surprise You is a beautifully layered novel about navigating the often shifting bonds of family and friendship, and learning how to put the pieces back together when things fall apart.
Add this one to your list of books that should come with tissues. Many "tweens" can relate to the events and feelings in this book. Friends change and mature at different rates and when a best friend changes a lot, and seems to be moving away from you, it can be devastating. Emily's character really rang true for me. The struggle and pressures that kids (particularly girls) can go through with friends, popularity, bullying and just finding their place is all presented perfectly. I was moved to tears more than once as I watched how Emily was treated and felt her desperation to be accepted.
Who Would Like It
I would highly recommend this book for grades 4-6. Fans of books like One for the Murphys, The Thing About Leftovers and Raymie Nightingale will enjoy Things that Surprise You.
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