Harmony Music Camp is a big deal. You have to apply and be accepted for camp, and each week you audition for your seat in the band.
This is Andi’s first year at camp, and it kind of feels like her aunt and uncle are trying to get rid of her for the summer. Her mother died ten months ago and she hasn’t been able to adjust to life with her aunt and uncle or enjoy the things she used to, like playing the trumpet.
Zora has been going for many years and has many friends, but because she and Andi are black, people seem to think they should be best friends. And at first, they are definitely not. Andi wears all black and mostly keeps to herself. Zora is bubbly and colorful and friends with everyone. But behind it all, Zora feels all this anxiety to be the best and make her parents happy. And as Andi and Zora get to know one another, they grow closer. Each helps the other be truer to herself and happier.
If you couldn’t already tell, this book deals with some difficult subjects: death of a parent and anxiety among them, but also self-harm. However, this is also the story of first love and a first kiss.
Do you believe in aliens? The new girl, Jennifer, does, but Mallory knows admitting that would make Jennifer an outcast. Mallory decides to help Jennifer to fit in, but when Jennifer goes missing, she has to admit that maybe her “help” was actually bullying.
Mallory wants to find Jennifer, so she looks for clues in Jennifer’s journals, and asks her former friends to help. As they search, weird things start happening; things that could be connected to Jennifer’s disappearance, or even aliens. Will Mallory risk her popularity and current friendships to find Jennifer?
This story is told by Mallory, who goes back and forth from talking about what happened before and after Jennifer’s disappearance. She can be an unreliable narrator, especially when she tries to convince herself and others that she didn’t do anything wrong. Reading a story from the perspective of the bully was new and interesting to me. This was an interesting and realistic mystery, with the best kind of mischief (to help find the truth). The author writes at the end of the book about her own experience being bullied as a child, and I really, really appreciated that. This story was exciting, sad, even funny sometimes, and I recommend it to fans of mysteries and books like Wonder and Restart.
Jolene has become friends online with Addie, who livestreams when she flies her ultralight plane. When Jolene sees Addie crash her plane in the desert, she knows she has to move quickly to find her. Jolene leaves a note for her mom and takes off, hoping to get to Addie as fast as she can. Does Jolene find Addie? Read on to find out.
Miriam and her family move from Manhattan to upstate New York to run a motel. Miriam is 11, and has two good friends she hates to leave back home. Upon arrival in her new town, Miriam meets a new friend, Kate and a cast of towns people who begin to make her feel welcome. This is a sweet summer friendship story which also deals with religion and tolerance. Miriam is Jewish and her new friend Kate is Catholic. Both these faiths are explored in this book as the girls grapple with a decision they make to help business at the struggling motel. This story is full of authentic characters and a wonderful summer setting.
I feel like Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham followed me in 8th grade because I identified so much with this story. Being in middle school and trying to figure out who you are is a very confusing and emotional time. Having friends, fighting with your friends, being obsessed with boys while sometimes still thinking they are gross, I remember that so much. Wanting to be a good person, but not knowing what that means exactly, is something I understand.