Merci Suárez Changes Gears

by Meg Medina

Cuban American Merci, 11, lives with her parents and older brother, Roli, at Las... read more

Cuban American Merci, 11, lives with her parents and older brother, Roli, at Las Casitas—three adjacent houses occupied by her extended family. Merci and Roli attend Seaward Academy, a private school where Roli is an academic star and Merci, now in her second year, has recently been named a “sunshine buddy” for a new student Michael Clark. Being a scholarship student at the school has enough challenges without Edna Santos, Merci’s own sunshine buddy the year before, annoyed at Merci. It turns out Edna likes Michael, creating drama Merci wants no part of. The drama Merci can’t avoid is at home, where her beloved grandfather, Lolo, has been acting moody and forgetful. When Merci has to take over caring for her young cousins after school because Lolo cannot, it means she can’t go out for soccer. Upset, and worried about Lolo, Merci wants reassurance her family seems unable to provide. When they finally reveal Lolo was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it’s a difficult truth, but one that Merci needed to know. Merci is firmly grounded in family and culture, giving her the stability she needs to meet and respond to change in this lively, moving story. (Ages 9–12)

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

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