Library Journal Review
Gr 4-7-Eleven-year-old Merci Suárez is starting sixth grade and everything is changing. Not only do upper graders have to switch teachers throughout the day, but playing sports, like Merci loves to do, is seen as babyish and befriending boys is taboo. So when Merci is assigned to show new kid Michael Clark around as part of her scholarship package at Seaward Pines Academy, it's a problem. Especially when the richest, smartest, most popular girl in school, Edna, who gets to write the sixth grade's social rules and break them, too, seems to like Michael. Meanwhile, at home, Merci has to watch over her little twin cousins who live close by at Las Casitas, a row of houses belonging to Mami and Papi; Abuela and Lolo; and Tia, for free, so trying out for the school's soccer team and earning money to buy her dream bike is almost impossible. What's worse, Merci can't even talk to her beloved Lolo about all her problems like she used to as he starts acting less and less like himself. The realistic portrayal of a complex young Latina's life is one many readers will relate to as she discovers that change can be hard, but it's the ride that matters. VERDICT Pura Belpré-winning author Medina cruises into readers' hearts with this luminous middle grade novel. A winning addition to any library's shelves.-Brittany Drehobl, Morton Grove Public Library, IL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Merci Suárez loves painting with her Papi, playing on his soccer team, telling her Abuelo Lolo about her days at school, and taking pictures of her family when they are together. But lately Lolo has been acting different he wanders off, forgets things easily, and has even gotten angry. To add to Merci's worries, sixth grade at Seaward Pines Academy has gotten off to a rocky start. To make up her school tuition, Merci has been assigned community service as a Sunshine Buddy to new student Michael Clark, and, as the weeks go by, popular Edna Santos only gets meaner as Merci and Michael become friends. Merci isn't sure what to make of this new world where maybe like is not the same as like like, and where popular is not the same as having friends. As she navigates her way through the year, she discovers that, even though change is scary and even though it may mean things will never be the same, sometimes it is unavoidable. Medina's breathtaking coming-of-age story features a strong, deeply honest protagonist whose insights will make readers laugh, as well as dynamic secondary characters who reveal glimmers of profound depth. Medina capably gets to the heart of middle-school experiences in this engrossing story of a kid growing into herself. A must-read.--Paz, Selenia Copyright 2010 Booklist
Horn Book Review
Working-class Cuban American girl Mercedes Merci Surezs life in South Florida consists of spending time with her extended family and attending elite Seaward Pines Academy, where the sixth grader does community service to pay for her tuition. Now in her second year, Merci must participate in the Sunshine Buddies program, mentoring new-kid Michael Clark (a boy!) and enduring the teasing of mean girl Edna Santos. In the midst of growing up and trying to find a school-life balance, she experiences the power dynamics between her Mami and Papi; navigates her relationship with her studious brother Roli; witnesses the struggles of her ta, Inz, as she runs a bakery and raises young twins; and worries about her abuelo, Lolo, who no longer seems like himself. Medina brings depth, warmth, and heart to her characters and their voices, because she never shies away from portraying this familys flaws and includes frank conversations around difficult issues, such as Alzheimers. Medina (Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, rev. 3/13; Burn Baby Burn, rev. 3/16) consistently and assuredly portrays Latinx girls and women who grapple with their insecurities while learning about themselves and their worlds, and middle-grade heroine Merci is a fine example. Accurate and natural use of Spanish words and sayings that fit each characters tone builds authenticity. Medina writes with sincerity and humor to convey the experience of growing up in a close-knit family that tends to mingle too much in everyones business while unfailingly and dedicatedly supporting and helping one another. sujei lugo (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Review
Merci navigates the challenges of being a scholarship kid at a posh South Florida private school and the expectations of and responsibilities to her intergenerational family.Eleven-year-old Merci Surez isn't the typical Seaward Pines Academy sixth-grader. Instead of a stately mansion, Merci lives with her parents and older brother, Roli, in one of three identical homes next to her Cuban-American extended family: Abuela and Lolo, Ta Inz, and her rambunctious little twin cousins. At school, Merci has to deal with condescending mean girl Edna Santos, who loves to brag, boss around her friends, and throw out hurtful comments that start with "No offense." Although Merci wants to earn money so that she can afford a new bike, she's stuck volunteering for Sunshine Buddies, in which current students mentor new ones. What's worse is that her assigned buddy is Michael Clark, a new tall white boy in her class. At home, Merci's beloved Lolo begins to act erratically, and it becomes clear something secret and serious is happening. Medina writes about the joys of multigenerational home life (a staple of the Latinx community) with a touching, humorous authenticity. Merci's relationship with Lolo is heartbreakingly beautiful and will particularly strike readers who can relate to the close, chaotic, and complicated bonds of live-in grandparents.Medina delivers another stellar and deeply moving story. (author's note) (Fiction. 9-13) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.