Hiya everyone, it’s Sarah!
I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This ARC has been sitting on my shelf since BEA. I kept putting it off for other more pressing books, or so I thought. However, when this book won the Newbery, it quickly rose to the top of my reading list. I am in a weird place with it winning, but I am glad I am now familiar with it.
Merci lives next-door to her family, her grandparents in one area and her aunt’s family in another. Merci and her older brother are able to attend a private school, because of the paint work her family’s business conducted for the school. Merci doesn’t feel like she belongs with the rich kids at school, she isn’t as smart as her brother, but she knows that she has the soccer skills to let her shine. However, her grandfather has begun to forget important things and become angry easily. Merci is expected to pick up the slack by giving up soccer and many other things she looks foreword to, so that she can help the family. She babysits her younger twin cousins and forgoes special school events. Merci is also expected to participate in the Sunshine Buddies club as an ambassador of her school to a new student. The previous year, she was paired with another student when she was the new student. Merci is expected to repay the “kindness” and her parents make sure she knows how in debt the family is to the kindness of the school. Merci’s student is a boy from Minnesota, who is attracting the notice of the popular girls. It is difficult for Merci to navigate these responsibilities, but she does it with a unique flair.
I appreciate this story and its importance. It presents a real character that is not frequently seen in youth fiction. I don’t necessarily agree with the fact that this is the year’s best literary example of youth writing. However, Merci is a relatable character, who is going through challenges that many readers will be able to relate to.