You Go First (hardcover)
by Erin Entrada Kelly
You Go First is told from multiple perspectives. Charlotte is a middle school girl with a best friend who suddenly turns on her for no reason, leaving Charlotte lonely, confused, and deeply hurt by her betrayal. To top it off, her dad just had a heart attack, and she is worried about him. Ben is also in middle school, and he is bullied by “cool” kids because he is geeky and awkward, but he doesn’t report the offenses to anyone else, and continues to strive for a position on student council. His parents are in the middle of an amicable divorce, but he is angry and confused by it all. He, too, is lonely. Charlotte and Ben play Scrabble online together and occasionally talk on the phone, but never relay their troubles in an honest way, though both are struggling with similar situations. They are both struggling with very relatable middle school issues while searching for who they really are inside.
What I liked about this book is how relatable it is. I love the way she writes… as if she were just in middle school herself, but can see things much clearer now. I remember feeling left out, hurt by friends, wishing to start over each year and create a new identity… it brings back these feelings for me as an adult, and I can guarantee most students will be able to relate to these two characters because of the way she describes them and their situations so vividly.
What I didn’t like about this book was that the bullies never got their punishment. But do they ever, in real life? I can guarantee the girls who tortured me in sixth grade don’t remember my name, and I’m sure they didn’t get any sort of retribution for the names they called me, or the tears I cried because of what they said and did to me. The fact that they weren’t called out just adds to the relatability of the story.
Book 16 of 20 (summer goal)
(Book 62 of 2018)