cover image You Go First

You Go First

Erin Entrada Kelly. Greenwillow, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-241418-2

In Newbery Medalist Kelly’s (Hello, Universe) new novel, a long-distance online friendship provides a lifeline for two brainy, lonely kids facing turbulent events. Tautly plotted, the narrative alternates points of view between 12-year-old Charlotte in the Philadelphia suburbs and 11-year-old Ben in Louisiana, who share a love of words and play a running game of online Scrabble. During one tumultuous week each faces grave challenges: Charlotte can’t face her father’s heart attack and struggles as her former best friend shifts into a more popular clique, and loner Ben denies the impact of his parents’ divorce and plunges himself into an out-of-character student council election. Kelly balances the humiliations of middle school—the desperation over where to sit at lunch, bullying, and social jockeying—with real kindness; each protagonist believably becomes more honest and forms new connections. Ultimately, Kelly crafts an incisive portrait of friendship and resilience. Ages 8–12. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. [em](Apr.) [/em]