I received this book for free from the publisher at BEA 2016. That fact in no way influenced my opinion of the book or the content of this review.
The Littlest Bigfoot by Jennifer Weiner
Published on September 13, 2016.
From New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner comes a laugh-out-loud funny and painstakingly real tale of friendship, furry creatures, and finding the place where you belong.
Alice Mayfair, twelve years old, slips through the world unseen and unnoticed. Ignored by her family and shipped off to her eighth boarding school, Alice would like a friend. And when she rescues Millie Maximus from drowning in a lake one day, she finds one.
But Millie is a Bigfoot, part of a clan who dwells deep in the woods. Most Bigfoots believe that people—NoFurs, as they call them—are dangerous, yet Millie is fascinated with the No-Fur world. She is convinced that humans will appreciate all the things about her that her Bigfoot tribe does not: her fearless nature, her lovely singing voice, and her desire to be a star.
Alice swears to protect Millie’s secret. But a league of Bigfoot hunters is on their trail, led by a lonely kid named Jeremy. And in order to survive, Alice and Millie have to put their trust in each other—and have faith in themselves—above all else.
I’ve enjoyed several of Jennifer Weiner’s adult books, especially Little Earthquakes, so when I saw that she’d written a middle grade book, I had to snag an ARC at BEA. I enjoyed this story, but the execution wasn’t as good as I would have hoped for. Jennifer often writes about characters who have issues with their body image or don’t fit in well with other women, and this middle grade book is similar. It’s about two young women who stand out in their communities. Millie is the smallest in her tribe of Yare, a.k.a. Bigfoots. She is the chief’s daughter, posed to take over when he dies, but far too interested in the No-Fur (human) world. Alice is a large girl with an uncontrollable mane of hair who’s been kicked out of school year after year. This year she’s landed at an experimental school in upstate New York right across the lake from Millie’s clan. The girls start an unusual friendship and fight against the powers that be. It’s fun and cute, and I know young kids will enjoy their tale.
Also in the mix are Jeremy and Jo, also teens who don’t fit in and are obsessed with hunting Bigfoot. They met over an online quiz that Jo gives to Jeremy and they have a lot of sophisticated technology, and medical equipment at their disposal. Jeremy attends the local middle school, and Jo, who is wheelchair bound, is home schooled. I enjoyed all of the characters. Even the bully, Jessica, is well written.
But the issue I had was with the pacing. The exposition is almost half of the book. I think this is going to be a series, given the number 1 on the spine of my ARC, but even still, it was a lot of introduction before the action got started. Also, the book alternates between Alice’s, Millie’s, and Jeremy’s points of view, and it often backs up to re-tell a portion of the story from another perspective. It seemed to slow things down even more.
The last 50 pages or so were high action and great suspense, so I have great hopes for the future books in the series. I will definitely come back for more, but this first book was a little slow going.
My Rating: 3 Stars
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