Things That Surprise You by Jennifer MaschariThank you to Blue Slip Media for providing me with an advance copy of this book for review - all opinions are my own.
Oh, how I love this book! I read it in one morning and halfway through reading it I messaged the author and told her my very personal reasons for just why I loved it so much ~ reasons that I wont go into here, but reasons that give me an insiders opinion on just how RIGHT this book is.
THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU is at first glance a middle grade novel about a girl heading into middle school and dealing with the typical agonies of friendship and fitting in. And is that, in a perfect way, but it is also a searingly real look at living with a sibling with an eating disorder and the way diet culture pervades young girls lives. Maschari has completely nailed how to write about this topic in an non-preachy way, without making anorexia appealing to readers.......which so many novels about eating disorders do. We want books on this topic, but we do NOT want books that introduce this disease in an appealing way to more children. This book treats anorexia as the horrible disease that it is and heartbreakingly conveys the impact it has on entire families.
Oh wait! There was so. much. more that I loved about this book! I loved Emilys innocence and her adoration of the world of Unicorn Chronicles, and the fact that her teacher introduces her to Anastasia Krupnik may just be my favorite thing on earth. The issue of divorce is a large part of the story, and that was so so real to me as well. She just wants her family back! Dont we all, as middle schoolers AND adults, want life to be the way it was before things got hard?
As Emily struggles to make herself a better person and fit in, she realizes that what she thought she wanted may not be so appealing as she dreamed it would be. I cant recommend this book enough - it is a required purchase for middle school libraries and classrooms.
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