Medina, Meg. Merci Suarez Can’t Dance. Fiction. Candlewick, 04/2021. 372pp. $17.99. 978-0-7636-9050-2. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 4-7.
Cuban-American seventh-grader Merci Suarez is back, but the challenges she faces have changed. Medina is masterful in taking established characters and moving them down the road to the next place in life. Grandfather Lolo’s dementia has gotten worse, and the family is also adjusting to having a big brother away at college, living a new life without the family. Also, seventh-graders can be MEAN and it’s on full display here. In each situation, Medina has captured the essence of it beautifully. No matter what life throws Merci’s way, she comes to understand that though she may not be able to change the situation, she can control how she responds to it. Readers will cheer for Merci’s plucky spirit as 372 pages fly by.
Beth Gousman, Montclair School