Published by Candlewick
Summary: This follow up to the Newbery Award-winning Merci Suárez Changes Gears finds Merci in seventh grade, trying to find her place at the prestigious Seaward Pines Academy. She’s starting to be a bit curious about boys and kissing, but vehemently denies any interest to her friends and family. The seventh graders are in charge of the annual Valentine’s Day Heart Ball, and Merci reluctantly agrees to be the photographer if she can stay in the hall and not have to actually dance. Her new friend (or maybe crush) Wilson is there, and Merci succeeds in not only saying something regrettable to him but also accidentally destroying some expensive photography equipment and hiding the evidence. Merci has her own ways of dealing with these issues, some more successful than others, but all of them funny, relatable, and endearing. With the help of her large and loving family and her loyal friends, Merci manages to muddle through another year of school and even do some dancing. 384 pages; grades 4-7.
Pros: I started this book at the beginning of a train ride to New York City and finished it up later that evening when I returned home. I loved Merci, her Cuban-American family, and the staff and students of Seaward Pines. Upper elementary and middle school readers will quickly connect to her issues with peer pressure, family, and dealing with the consequences of questionable decision making.
Cons: Somehow Merci Suárez Changes Gears never got on my radar in 2018, and I was dismayed when a book I hadn’t read or reviewed won the 2019 Newbery. Then I had to dive right into reading 2019 books, so I still have never read this book.