|Just like that|
Author: Schmidt, Gary D.
A poignant, perceptive, witty novel with authenticity and emotion in multiple plot strands, weaving in themes of grief, loss, redemption, achievement, and love. After her closest friend dies in 1968, Meryl Lee Kowalski goes off to St. Elene's Preparatory Academy for Girls, where she struggles with school tradition and preferences for wealthy students. In a parallel story, Matt Coffin ends up on Maine's coast near St. Elene's with a pillowcase full of money lifted from the leader of a gang.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG+
Reading Level: 5.90
Points: 15.0 Quiz: 510307
Kirkus Reviews (+) (10/15/20)
School Library Journal (+) (11/01/20)
Booklist (+) (09/01/20)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/02/21)
The Hornbook (00/01/21)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 11/01/2020 Gr 5–8—Schmidt's extended family of memorable characters loses one but gains a few more in this masterful companion to The Wednesday Wars and Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. It's summer 1968, immediately after the end of Wednesday Wars, and Meryl Lee Kowalski (described as having auburn hair and freckles) is reeling from the shocking accidental death of Holling Hoodhood, the boy she's loved since the third grade. Her parents send her to the prestigious St. Elene's Preparatory Academy for Girls in Harpswell, ME, to help her come to terms with the loss. Also arriving in Harpswell is Matt Coffin, a homeless white 13-year-old whose harrowing past keeps him on the run, with the dream of safety and happiness always out of reach. Matt and Meryl Lee's lives intertwine with the help of Dr. Nora MacKnockater, headmistress of St. Elene's. With wisdom and dry humor, Dr. MacKnockater patiently helps both teens recognize their value and innate strength. The novel shares the same setting as Lizzie Bright—Maine's rugged seacoast—as well as several deftly placed supporting characters fans of Lizzie will appreciate. As Meryl Lee and Matt face grave adult issues, Schmidt contrasts the worst of humanity with the affirmation that love and hope can make the world a beautiful place. His language is honest and direct without trivializing the seriousness of a character's experience. Meryl Lee realizes "life doesn't stop even when horrible things happen." The novel closes with the tantalizing hint that the next family story may come from Matt's missing past. VERDICT Schmidt effortlessly weaves seemingly unrelated plot threads into a beautiful tapestry of heartbreak, courage, and humor. An essential purchase for all middle grade collections.—Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem P.L., Holbrook, NY - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.