I received this book for free from LB Kids at BEA 2016. That fact in no way influenced my opinion of the book or the content of this review.
The Best Worst Thing by Kathleen Lane
Published on June 7, 2016.
A simply told, deeply riveting and perceptive debut novel that strikes a universal chord by exploring what it's like to be an 11 year-old who doesn't feel ready to grow up and leave childhood behind.
Maggie is worried.
She's starting middle school, and she suddenly sees injustice and danger everywhere--in her history textbook, on the playground, in her neighborhood, on the news. How can anyone be safe when there's a murderer on the loose, a bully about to get a gun for his twelfth birthday, rabbits being held captive for who-knows-what next door, and an older sister being mysteriously consumed by adolescence? Maggie doesn't like any of it, so she devises intricate ways of controlling her own world--and a larger, more dangerous plan for protecting everyone else.
Here is a simply told, deeply felt, and perceptive novel about learning to let go of what you cannot control, from an exciting new talent.
I enjoyed this book. Maggie is starting middle school. She is dealing with normal things: social hierarchy at a new school, friends who are interested in make up and clothes, her siblings (one younger, one older), the tension between her parents, etc. But at the same time she has extreme anxiety. A murderer has been spotted in the neighborhood, and she's convinced he's going to come and kill her family. A boy in her class who lives two houses over is rumored to be getting a gun for his 12th birthday, so she imagines him as the killer. It was very interesting to see her anxiety play out as if these things really happen. Maggie has to repeat mantras (almost like prayers) in her head each night to keep bad things from happening.
There is not a whole lot of plot. The book just chronicles the day to day happenings. But I was kind of fascinated with this insight into an anxious mind. I really loved all of the true-to-age bits, such as the notes being passed at school and her best friend starting to wear lipstick. It was a very honest and real depiction of that awkward age. I think it would be a very relate-able read for kids in middle school.
My Rating: 3 Stars
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On the blog last year...
Book Review: A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty