Well, That Was Awkward by Rachel Vail

Published by Viking Books for Young Readers

Summary:  In this modern-day middle school retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac, Gracie discovers quite unexpectedly that she has a crush on her friend A.J.  When A.J. is asked in a convoluted series of maneuvers which girl he likes, it turns out to be Sienna, Gracie’s pretty, sporty best friend.  Gracie has grown up with parents who lost their first daughter at a young age, so she knows it’s important to keep people happy and never let on when you’re feeling upset.  When Sienna feels awkward about texting A.J., Gracie takes over as the voice of Sienna, pleasantly surprised by how witty A.J.’s texts are.  She’s able to comfortably report all this to Emmett, the vertically-challenged boy next door who has been her best friend since preschool.  Secret identities are revealed, feelings are hurt, and relationships shift cataclysmically at a single eighth grade party, as Gracie realizes that being 14 is way harder than being 13 ever was, but maybe more rewarding as well.  320 pages; grades 5-8.

Pros:  Middle schoolers will zip through this fresh and funny novel.  There are no big surprises about who ends up with whom, but the realistic characters and settings, as well as Gracie’s  slightly sarcastic but caring voice will keep them hooked until the end.

Cons:  Gracie’s and Emmett’s constant quipping Got. Kinda. Old.

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