Medina, Meg. (2018). Merci Suárez Changes Gears. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.
Fiction, middle grade. Ages 9-12.
Winner of the 2019 John Newbery Medal, Merci Suárez is an endearing and moving story of 6th grader Merci Suárez, her family, and the nuances of middle school.
Cuban-American Merci attends an elite, private school on scholarship and constantly feels and sees the differences around her, as well as the normal differences and changes that happen at the beginning of middle school. She must learn how to maneuver the changes that come along with moving from 5th grade to 6th grade - different teachers, changing classrooms, cliques, boys, group dates, and more. There's also the change in dynamics between girls and boys, as well as steer her way through the maze that is pre-teen girls. And, to top things off, Merci's mom will not let her tryout for soccer. She must also get good grades and be respectful to the adults and teachers at the school. Things at home should be calm and stay the same.....
At home, however, things are not as easy they used to be either. Merci lives with her extended family in three little houses nicknamed "Las Casitas". She must now help babysit her twin cousins, do more chores to allow her brother the time to study and work on his college applications, and her grandfather doesn't seem the same anymore. The adults are whispering and won't tell Merci why. Is something wrong with her grandfather?
Medina does a wonderful job guiding the reader through Merci's trials and tribulations and school and at home. Most of us will relate to difficulties and remember how we felt in middle school. Pre-teens that read this book will see themselves, too, and hopefully realize that it is okay to be different and stick up for yourself and your friends, and that everyone else is going through similar feelings and struggles. Medina also beautifully works in family dynamics as well as explaining the complexities of Alzheimer's disease and the effects it has on all.
2019 Newbery Medal Winner
Review by: Cassandra E. Osterloh, NHCC Librarian
Available in the NHCC Library
YA PZ7.M512765 Me 2018