YOU GO FIRST is the new middle grade novel by Erin Entrada Kelly—and I liked it even more than her Newbery medal-winning book HELLO, UNIVERSE (see our reviews of that book here and here).
You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly

Thanks to the Kid Lit Exchange for the review copy of this book. As always, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means that Lu and Bean Read may receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you) on products purchased through external vendors.

You Go First Review

In YOU GO FIRST, two new middle schoolers living across the country from one another connect through an online Scrabble game.

In Philadelphia, Charlotte struggles with her dad’s recent heart attack and the abrupt loss of her best (and only) friend. She is forced to be a lone wolf in the unforgiving environment of middle school.

“Life is difficult for lone wolves, but their self-reliance often makes them stronger than average.”

Ben, in Louisiana, has just learned his parents will divorce. In a moment of inspiration, he decides to run for the student council. It’s a long shot since he’s known as the class dork, but he is tired of being afraid.

“…it’s not often that you’re given a choice of what you want to be, and Ben decided he didn’t want to be small.”

As Ben and Charlotte’s real-life social situations deteriorate, they begin to rely on their online friendship more. Nightly phone calls provide the sounding board they each need to work through difficult issues. While they never truly become close friends, they always pick up the phone. And sometimes picking up the phone makes all the difference.

I liked that YOU GO FIRST tackles the common middle school social issues from the perspective of both a boy and a girl. They both go through painful moments, but we can always see the social infrastructure they have around them—involved parents, helpful people at school, and the glimmer of potential for new friendships.

I also thought it was important that Ben and Charlotte didn’t develop a very strong relationship. First, because that would send the wrong message to kids about developing friendships with people they meet online. Second, because their long-distance relationship couldn’t provide the true support they each needed on a daily basis. Their relationship was exactly what it needed to be right when they needed it.

YOU GO FIRST is for kids who need to be reminded that things can always get better–just look for support in unlikely places.

Get the Book

YOU GO FIRST by Erin Entrada Kelly published on April 10, 2018, from Greenwillow Books.
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You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly

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