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2018
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Summary

Funny and poignant, Newbery Medalist and New York Times bestseller Erin Entrada Kelly's national bestseller You Go First is an exploration of family, bullying, word games, art, and the ever-complicated world of middle school friendships.

In a starred review, School Library Journal wrote that Erin Entrada Kelly can "capture moments of tween anguish with searing honesty."

Twelve-year-old Charlotte Lockard and eleven-year-old Ben Boxer are separated by more than a thousand miles. On the surface, their lives seem vastly different--Charlotte lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while Ben is in the small town of Lanester, Louisiana.

Charlotte wants to be a geologist and keeps a rock collection in her room. Ben is obsessed with Harry Potter, presidential history, and recycling. But the two have more in common than they think. They're both highly gifted. They're both experiencing family turmoil. And they both sit alone at lunch.

During the course of one week, Charlotte and Ben--friends connected only by an online Scrabble game--will intersect in unexpected ways as they struggle to navigate the turmoil of middle school. The New York Times-bestselling novel You Go First reminds us that no matter how hard it is to keep our heads above troubled water, we never struggle alone.

Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly writes with an authentic, humorous, and irresistible voice. This engaging and character-driven story about growing up and finding your place in the world is for fans of Rebecca Stead and Rita Williams-Garcia.

Trade Reviews
School Library Journal Review
Gr 4-6-An online Scrabble game is more than a pastime, it's a lifeline for middle schoolers Charlotte and Ben: both children are coping with heartache. Charlotte's father is in the hospital, and her best friend is drifting toward a new social circle where Charlotte isn't welcome. Struggling to fit in at a new school, Ben's parents announce their divorce. The children's game postings evolve into a friendship by phone-they live in different states-that reassures them they aren't alone. Kelly (Hello, Universe) knows her audience well and uses Ben and Charlotte's alternating points of view to capture moments of tween anguish with searing honesty. Foreshadowing facts lead each of Charlotte's chapters and information about sea stars is perfectly incorporated in a powerful scene about bullying. Kelly takes the concerns of young readers' seriously while reassuring them that, with time and resilience, they will eventually be okay. Ben and Charlotte's gradual understanding of the changing forces that affect their lives is reinforced through gentle pacing and careful plotting: a Robert Frost quote is strategically placed so that when revealed in its entirety, both the protagonists-and readers-are ready to understand it. VERDICT Heartfelt and hopeful, this novel will encourage young readers to offer their hand in friendship to kids who, just like them, might be struggling.--Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
It's a bold step when 11-year-old Ben, reeling from the news that his parents plan to divorce, asks 12-year-old Charlotte if they can talk on the phone sometimes. Friendly rivals in an online Scrabble game for several months, they've never met and don't realize what they have in common: each is intellectually gifted, lonely, and suddenly coping with troubles (Ben's parents' divorce and his ill-fated run for student council; Charlotte's father's heart attack, as well as rejection by her best friend). The story's momentum never falters as, chapter by chapter, the disarming third-person text shuttles between Charlotte's story, set in Pennsylvania, and Ben's in Louisiana. Those phone conversations? Though realistically awkward and anything but candid, they still provide a lifeline for two vulnerable kids feeling suddenly adrift and alone. Each story develops independently over six days, but the link between the two main characters becomes a subtle bond that enables each one to make it through an emotionally challenging week and come out stronger. Readers drawn by the intriguing jacket art will enjoy the novel's perceptive dual narrative.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2018 Booklist
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