Thank you to Blue Slip Media
for sending me a copy of this book to review
and for providing an awesome prize pack
for me to giveaway! (Details below!)
Title: Things That Surprise You
Author: Jennifer Maschari
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: August 22, 2017
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel
GoodReads Summary: Emily Murphy is about to enter middle school. She’s sort of excited… though not nearly as much as her best friend Hazel, who is ready for everything to be new. Emily wishes she and Hazel could just continue on as they always have, being the biggest fans ever of the Unicorn Chronicles, making up dance moves, and getting their regular order at The Slice.
But things are changing. At home, Emily and her mom are learning to move on after her parents’ divorce. Hardest of all, her beloved sister Mina has been in a treatment facility to deal with her anorexia. Emily is eager to have her back, but anxious about her sister getting sick again.
Hazel is changing too. She has new friends from the field hockey team, is starting to wear makeup, and have crushes on boys. Emily is trying to keep up, but she keeps doing and saying the wrong thing. She want to be the perfect new Emily. But who is that really?
Things That Surprise You is a beautifully layered novel about navigating the often shifting bonds of family and friendship, and learning how to put the pieces back together when things fall apart.
What I Think: I've been excited to tell students all about Things That Surprise You because it is such a real book about having friends, keeping friends, and making friends that I imagine many middle schoolers will relate to. It's a book I would recommend to readers who like Rebecca Stead's Good Bye Stranger and Ann Brashares' The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
As a mentor text, I love how Jennifer takes a moment and describes it so that we can feel what the characters are feeling. I pulled out two snatches of text that include similes that I love. They demonstrate how we have to be intentional about the similes we include. The imagery she creates with this similes definitely match the mood of the character and the scene.
I also like how Emily, the main character, has her own character arc but her sister Mina has one as well. Too often writers focus on the main character and how he or she changes but we also have to look at how our supporting characters change and how our main characters might even impact the change our supporting characters go through. It's real life, right? But being able to do it in our writing as well is important and Things That Surprise You is a perfect mentor text for looking at how the main character isn't the only one who is going to grow as the story progresses.
Snatch of Text:
"Walking in here is like stepping into a pair of the fuzziest socks. It feels cozy and right." (p. 11)
"All the good feelings I had built up whoosh out of me like air from a flattened bike tire." (p. 97)
Writing Prompt: Write about what you look for in a good friend. Use examples from Things That Surprise You and Emily's experiences with friends in the book and connect to your own experiences as well.
One lucky winner will receive a copy of THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU (U.S. addresses).
One grand prize winner will receive a Crafty Unicorn Kit! The prize includes a fun craft kit, a copy of THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU, unicorn stickers, and puzzle cards!