cover image Merci Suárez Changes Gears

Merci Suárez Changes Gears

Meg Medina. Candlewick, $16.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7636-9049-6

In this warmly told story, Medina (Burn Baby Burn) introduces 11-year-old Merci, descendent of Cuban immigrants, who attends a Florida private school on scholarship with her whip-smart older brother. Merci doesn’t feel much pressure to be anyone but herself, but her self-assuredness (“It’s never too early to work on your corporate leadership skills,” she declares at one point) makes her a target: rich kid Edna tries to put Merci outside the sixth grade girls’ friend circle, and the clashes make school miserable (“No offense is what Edna says right before she takes a hatchet to your feelings,” she reports). Merci’s home life is also stressful—money is tight, her beloved grandfather is failing, and familial obligations (mostly babysitting twin cousins) mean there’s no chance to try out for the school soccer team. Through all this, Medina keeps the tone light as Merci’s take-charge personality helps her to succeed in this coming-of-age tale about family and the perils of sixth grade. Ages 9–12. [em]Agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary. (Sept.) [/em]