Release Date: September 1, 2007
Publisher: HMH Young Readers
Keywords: middle school, bullying, popularity
Format Read: paperback
Goodreads | IndieBound
THE COVERSimple, understated, and great. A lot of the toils of middle school revolve around the lunch room (and high school too). Where to sit, who to sit with, who sees you sitting with those people, what you eat, etc. The title was very fitting and not 100% cliche and obvious, which makes it fit perfectly. Also the uprooting of the tree and everything familiar plays a big role in this book.
WHY I LIKED ITThis book dealt with remarkable topics I forgot were covered in middle grade books. Ostracism, racism, fat-shaming, economic status-judging. And those are just a few of the issues that appeared. It was difficult for me to read at times because of the behavior of some children, which ultimately stemmed from their parents.
I identified quite a bit with Kirsten (minus the crazy rich people house stuff, I grew up on a farm). She's overweight for her age, and all the girls in her class pick on her for that. She doesn't really have a friend group, and the one friend she had in years past is suddenly running with the "cool" crowd. This throws her for a loop, so when Walk, the new kid, is extremely nice to her, the two are able to bond because they don't really have anywhere else to go.
I think this book would be a really great one for kids this age to read. It brought up so many important topics that need to be discussed, and Choldenko did it in such a way that highlighted how terrible some of the characters were being.
THE SHOCK VALUEOne would think there wouldn't be a huge shock factor in a middle grade, but the big reveal at the end was one I could not have forseen when starting this book. There was a little bit of lead up, but I was definitely surprised.
RESERVATIONS?It was a little weird at times reading in the dual POV because Kirsten's chapters were told in first person, and Walk's were told in third person. It really took me out of the story. I felt like since we got to hear Kirsten's thoughts from her, we should be able to hear Walk's from him and not from some omnition narrator who isn't present to tell Kirsten's story.
FINAL THOUGHTSSuper important topics for young people to discuss and observe. Diverse cast of characters who were all dynamic, imperfect, and trying to fit in, which made this book incredibly real and honest.