Friday, February 26, 2016

Pair It With: Goodbye Stranger and The Pages Between Us

This Pair It With is all about middle school friendships. Middle school is such a tricky time in-between time, but it's also a time of tremendous growth. We loved how these books focus on the things that regular middle school kids encounter on a daily basis.

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Publisher/ Year: Wendy Lamb Books - August 2015

Genre: Middle Grade contemporary

Source: Review copy from NetGalley

Amazon | Goodreads 

Rebecca Stead's Goodbye Stranger was one of my favorite middle-grade books of 2015. I just adore it.

Best friends, Tabitha, Bridge, and Em are new seventh graders. And middle school is filled with new challenges. Tab is taken with her feminist English teacher. Bridge has started wearing cat ears everyday, and Em, whose body has developed more quickly than her friends, has captured the attention of an eighth-grade boy.

Layered on top of the story of Tab, Bridge, and Em are the letters that Sherm writes to his estranged grandfather and the tale of a ninth-grader alone on Valentine's Day.

The concept behind this book--"can three friends survive middle school?"--is deceptively simple and doesn't begin to convey the depth of detail and heart within these pages.

Rebecca Stead artfully navigates this in-between age where one begins to understand a little more about the grown-up world. Grown-ups can disappoint, big mistakes are a real possibility, and friendships fall apart. The unnamed ninth-grader's story provides a possible glimpse into the future for Tab, Bridge, and Em that I desperately hoped would not come to pass.

For me, the details really made this book: a certain older brother and his ridiculous bet, a boxing barista, the Berperson.

The Pages Between Us

by Lindsey Leavitt and Robin Mellom

Publisher/ Year: HarperCollins - February 2016

Genre: Middle Grade contemporary

Source: Review copy from Edelweiss

Amazon | Goodreads

The Pages Between Us is a sweet book about friendship, middle school, and growing up.

Piper an Olivia are best friends navigating the new world of middle school. With only one shared class, they have the dilemma of how they are going to communicate throughout each day. Piper discovers the perfect notebook for the job while shopping with her mom and the girls begin to write back and forth. When the club fair begins, the girls decide to try as many as they can; Piper so she can make friends to invite to her twelfth birthday party, and Olivia so she can practice talking to people in the hopes of building the confidence to talk to Jackson Whittaker. Troubles arise as the girls become interested in different clubs and different people.

I started reading The Pages Between Us without any introduction to it and there were things I didn't know until I'd finished the book. One thing I didn't realize when I started the book was that it was written by Lindsay Leavitt and Robin Mellom playing the letter game. One author wrote one character, one wrote the other and the book came together as they sent the chapters back and forth. JoLee and I have loved the idea of the letter game since we read Sorcery and Cecelia. I was impressed with how well the authors' writing styles blended. I didn't realize there were two of them until I finished the book. I also didn't know Lindsay Leavitt was one of the authors. I was pleasantly surprised because I really enjoyed her Princess for Hire series.

My favorite thing about The Pages Between Us is that it focuses on things average sixth grade girls deal with. The fight they have is big and real to them, but it is also age appropriate. I think that's important in a middle grade novel and I don't think it's done well very often. That said, it also meant it took me a little effort to get into the book because it does feel very young, but once I understood that was the point, I enjoyed the read and really came to love Piper and Olivia.

Goodbye Stranger reviewed by JoLee.
The Pages Between Us reviewed by Paige. 

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