Merci Suárez Changes Gears

Title: Merci Suárez Changes Gears

Author: Meg Medina

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge

ISBN: 9780763690496

Not only is this book a Newbery Award winner, the author is represented by my dream agent. To say I had high expectations would be an understatement. It took me a few chapters to get into it but once I did – I was hooked.

In her front cover book blurb, Robin Yardi calls Meg Medina “the Judy Blume for a new generation”. I totally agree. Merci Suárez Changes Gears is a wonderful coming of age novel. It’s not really about anything – which is probably why I had trouble getting into at first – but it’s also about everything in the life of Merci Suarez, a truly engaging character.

Everything is changing for Merci Suárez. Now in sixth grade, friendships are shifting and so are expectations – which are especially high for Merci who helps earns her way into private school by doing “community service”. At home, her Lolo’s acting very strange. Merci lives with her extended family in three connected houses called La Casitas, but she’s particularly close to her grandfather who bikes with her every Sunday morning and pays her to help with her dad’s painting company.

Merci Suárez Changes Gears reminds me of the books I loved growing up. It’s the type of book I want to write. The fact that it’s done so well – not just on the award circuit but on the New York Times Bestseller list as well –  gives me hope that contemporary books without a strong hook or fast-paced plot still have a place in the market. Oh – and the 13-year-old boys in my house liked it too.