cover image Merci Suárez Can’t Dance

Merci Suárez Can’t Dance

Meg Medina. Candlewick, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7636-9050-2

Newbery Medalist Medina artfully chronicles another year of highs and lows in the life of Cuban American middle schooler Merci Suárez via this winning sequel to Merci Suárez Changes Gears. Now a seventh grader, 12-year-old Merci has taken on more responsibilities at home and at school, including caring for her beloved grandfather, Lolo, as his Alzheimer’s advances, and managing the school store with her classmate, “human calculator” Wilson Bellevue, a quiet Cajun and Creole boy who wears a foot brace. But when Miss McDaniels drafts the entrepreneurial Merci to sell tickets for the Heart Ball—and cooperate with her former nemesis, Edna Santos—Merci must learn to step outside her comfort zone and onto the dance floor. Medina continues to build on the stellar character work of the first book, balancing laugh-out-loud one-liners (“Buy a Heart Ball ticket if you have absolutely nothing better to do in this sad life”) with vulnerability (“People... vanish, sometimes a little at a time. One day Lolo won’t know how to move his legs. One day soon, he won’t be able to dance”). This is a sequel of the finest quality, perfectly capturing the feelings of awkward first crushes (“Did he say I look nice? Or did he say I look like a rodent? I can’t decide”) and evolving friendships. Ages 9–12. [em]Agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary. (Apr.) [/em]