Well, That Was Awkward

5 CD. 6:15 hrs. Listening Library. Feb. 2017. $40. ISBN 9781524755522. digital download.
Gr 5–8—Gracie Grant is discovering "being fourteen is way more intense than thirteen ever was." Described by her frenemy as a neuter (liked by everyone, boys included), Gracie still struggles to navigate the murky madness of eighth grade. Trouble begins when she develops her first crush. AJ is experiencing his first crush, too—but his is directed toward Sienna, Gracie's best friend. Faithful Gracie concedes to Sienna's plea for help in communicating with AJ via text and is surprised that he is as quick-witted as her friend Emmett. Complicating matters is the heavy memory of her dead sister and Gracie's idea that she must become the perfect replacement daughter. This pressure unravels her. It takes a fast tortoise, a pet rabbit, and the deep love of family and friends to restore Gracie's joyful attitude. Character distinction is limited, but narrator Simone Policano perfectly captures Gracie.
VERDICT At turns humorous and poignant, Vail's latest deftly encapsulates the teeter-totter life of middle school. A twist ending will leave listeners smiling.

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