cover image Listen to This

Listen to This

Jennifer Blecher. Greenwillow, $18.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-0631-4073-8

Middle schooler Lily shares everything with her best friends Sasha and Maddie, including her secret crushes and a love of soccer. But when Sasha and Maddie are asked to play at an elite athletic level, Lily believes she’s been left behind, especially since it means that they’ll miss the big school dance for a game. Meanwhile, classmate Will feels like an outsider with everyone except for his best friend Gavin, and spends his afternoons rock climbing and avoiding being a topic of conversation—or worse, a guest—on his father’s successful Dr. Dad podcast. When Will and Lily become popular mean-girl Sienna’s new targets, they work together to confront her. During their partnership, they each learn to manage their own troubles and grow closer as a result. Through Lily and Will’s alternating POVs, Blecher (Camp Famous) spotlights each tween’s unique challenges. While the familiar trope of parents being out of touch feels overworked and dialogue rings artificial at times, a plethora of school drama and secondary plots, such as Maddie’s crush on another girl, add complexity to the characters’ potent journey in developing self-confidence, and Will and Lily’s gentle romance buoys the somewhat abrupt ending. Most major characters are coded as white. Ages 8–12. Agent: Alex Slater, Sanford J. Greenburger Assoc. (Mar.)