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by Erin Entrada Kelly

Summary

School Library Journal:

/* Starred Review */ Gr 5–8— Eighth grader Apple and her mother moved from the Philippines to Louisiana several years ago after the death of her father. All Apple has left of her dad is a Beatles cassette with his name written on it. At school, her two best friends are trying to become part of the in-group and have become very critical of her, especially after it’s discovered that she is on the unwritten Dog-Log and considered one of the ugliest girls in school. Apple is embarrassed by her mother, who doesn’t speak English well. The protagonist is desperate to get a guitar so she can learn to play the Beatles songs that her dad loved, but her mother is adamant that she not waste her time on music. Soon, Apple makes friends with a new boy, Evan, who’s not impressed with her former friends or their boyfriends. When the music teacher loans her a guitar, she discovers that she is something of a prodigy. The story will resonate with any student in middle school who has felt different and ostracized. The author has skillfully captured the various characters that populate Apple’s middle school. Only Apple’s mother remains two-dimensional until almost the end. The story is rather predictable until it ends with a twist. Apple mentions her favorite song “Blackbird” many times; readers unfamiliar with the song would benefit from listening to a recording or finding a YouTube clip.—Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC –Nancy P. Reeder (Reviewed December 1, 2014) (School Library Journal, vol 60, issue 12, p122)

Awards:

  • ALA Notable Children’s Books – Middle Readers Category: 2016
  • School Library Journal Best Books: 2015

Topics

5th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, Ages 9-12, Family, Friendship, Immigration, Loss