You Go First

by Erin Entrada Kelly

Twelve-year-old Charlotte’s dad is hospitalized and she’s scared to visit... read more

Twelve-year-old Charlotte’s dad is hospitalized and she’s scared to visit him. Meanwhile, her best friend wants to move up in the social hierarchy at school and is willing to belittle Charlotte to do so. Eleven-year-old Ben is surprised and then furious when his parents announce they’re divorcing. He throws himself into running for student council treasurer, although his earnest campaign is destined to fail. Both smart and precocious, Charlotte and Ben live in separate cities. Their connection to each other is through an online word game and the online chatting that has grown around their play. Ben is generally oblivious to his social awkwardness and inability to pick up on cues that would no doubt make his transition to middle school easier. Charlotte is more aware of the ways she’s seen as odd. Alternating chapters follow each of their lives over the course of a difficult week, although neither is honest with the other about their current challenges. The parallels offer readers plenty to ponder. So, too, does the fact that Charlotte and Ben’s personalities are a matter of fact, not fault or in need of fixing. When they each connect with someone new at school, it’s clearly because of who they each are, not in spite of it. (Ages 9–12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2019

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