|Ellen outside the lines|
Author: Sass, A. J.
Ellen, an autistic thirteen-year-old, navigates a new city, shifting friendships, a growing crush, and her queer and Jewish identities while on a class trip to Barcelona, Spain.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.20
Points: 9.0 Quiz: 517480
School Library Journal (05/13/22)
Booklist (+) (03/15/22)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 05/13/2022 Gr 3–7—Ellen Katz is an autistic, queer, Jewish 13-year-old who is spending two weeks on a class trip in Barcelona. She is excited to reconnect with her best friend Laurel, who she hasn't seen much lately. Ellen has looked at the past itinerary for the course and planned out everything she and Laurel will do in Spain. But a surprise group scavenger hunt that puts them in separate groups, throws off all her carefully detailed plans. Even with Abba as a parent chaperone, Ellen needs to face the changes that new friends and new adventures bring. As Ellen works with her new nonbinary classmate, Isa, and gets to know her other teammates, she realizes that maybe it is okay to make new friends and try new things. Even though she misses her time with Laurel, with the help of her new friends, who are supportive of her accommodations, Ellen learns a bit more about herself, her family, and her Jewish faith. Sass's latest book gives readers insight into what it is like to be autistic, sharing how Ellen's brain functions and the coping mechanisms that help her deal with things when they become overwhelming. The text thoughtfully deals with gender identity and fluidity at various levels. VERDICT A heartwarming and inviting book about finding self that hits at the ever-changing (and challenging) world of middle school. Recommended for all middle grade shelves.—Rebekah J. Buchanan - Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 03/15/2022 *Starred Review* When Ellen Katz signed up for her Georgia private school’s trip to Barcelona, she thought she would be spending time with her best friend, Laurel, the only person there who understands Ellen, who is autistic. So when the two are put on separate teams for the trip scavenger hunt, Ellen grows anxious about the widening distance between them. Sure, Ellen could get close to their teammates—Gibs, a white boy with ADHD who’s full of jokes; Andy, a kind-hearted Asian boy who broke up with his girlfriend because he’s gay; and Isa, a confident new Latinx nonbinary student—but Ellen would rather everything in her world fit into the categories she has already laid out. As Ellen learns to trust their new teammates and love Barcelona, she comes to terms with a new understanding of the world and their own identity, including the choice to use both she/her and they/them pronouns. Sass’ (Ana on the Edge, 2020) sophomore novel shines in its nuanced characterizations, subversion of stereotypes, and world that celebrates autism for the joy it brings Ellen when they are happily flapping. A tender, sweet coming-of-age story that brilliantly includes Ellen’s autism, LGBTQ+ identity, and Judaism in an engaging, fun scavenger-hunt plot that explores what happens when we take things one day at a time. - Copyright 2022 Booklist.