Hazel Hill Is Gonna Win This One by Maggie Horne

Published by Clarion Books

Summary:  Hazel has accepted her friendless state in seventh grade and is focusing on winning the speech contest to avenge last year’s loss to Ella Quinn.  She doesn’t pay much attention to popular boy Tyler, who insists on telling her about his many crushes.  But one morning, his gossip is a bit different: Ella, his former girlfriend, told him she didn’t want to get back together because she has a crush on Hazel.  Hazel is out as gay, and she’s not happy that Ella’s using her this way.  When she confronts Ella, though, she learns that Ella’s been receiving sexually harassing messages from someone who may or may not be Tyler.  Hazel discovers an important clue linking Tyler to the messages, but when the girls try to report what’s going on, they end up being the ones to get in trouble.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Hazel decides to use her public platform in the speech competition to bring attention to what is happening.  240 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  Hazel’s funny and distinctive voice tells a story of middle school sexual harrassment that may, unfortunately, be all too familiar to many readers.  Hazel, Ella, and Ella’s best friend Riley courageously join forces to speak out for justice.  The unexpected friendship Hazel finds with Ella and Riley (with a possible romance with Riley) adds a sweet dimension to the story.

Cons:  I like to see villains have some redeeming traits or at least an explanation for their terrible behavior, but this was not the case for either the principal or Tyler’s mother.

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