Monday, July 30, 2018

MG Review: So Done by Paula Chase

So Done by Paula Chase

Published: To be released August 14th, 2018 by Greenwillow Books
Genre: Contemporary MG
Binding: E-arc
Page Count: Goodreads says 304
Part of a series? I don't believe so.
Got via: Edelweiss.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Jamila Phillips and Tai Johnson have been inseparable since they were toddlers, having grown up across the street from each other in Pirates Cove, a low-income housing project. As summer comes to an end, Tai can’t wait for Mila to return from spending a month with her aunt in the suburbs.

But both girls are grappling with secrets, and when Mila returns she’s more focused on her upcoming dance auditions than hanging out with Tai.

Review: Well, this is a much needed book. Honestly I kinda don't know what to say here because I'm just like, "yes, good". I can see so many kids seeing themselves and their lives reflected in this, and that's exactly what middle grade is about. There's so many kids who are going to need this, and love it, and that's so excited.

Let's get into the other sections, because it's getting late, and I still have a bunch of books I wanna read tonight!

Plot Talk: To be honest, the first part of the book dragged for me a little. There's not a ton that goes on at first and the plot kind of takes a minute to get rolling. Once it gets its feet under it, it's great, but the beginning is a little slow.

Characters: Tai is hard to like - and I am very sure that is deliberate. I think there are a lot of kids like her, who are prickly and pretend not to care, because they're scared to get hurt if they care about things or people too much. She's hard to like, but it's completely understandable why she is the way she is, and it's worth it to keep reading as she lets her shell down. Tai would be a great character to read a sequel of.

Mila is such a sweetheart, and I think her arc of being more quiet and learning to stand up for herself is great, too. She's so brave and for so much of the book, I just felt so proud of her when she spoke up against being mistreated, and when she told the truth, and ahh, I just like her so much.

Both girls are such great representation of that awkward age when kids are first becoming teenagers and they have to start making choices about their futures and who they want to be. I also appreciated that the book had a variety of adult characters in the book, where some characters are, quite honestly, not the best people, some are great, while others are just trying their best. I think that reflects most readers' lives better than one extreme or the other.

PG-13 stuff: This book does deal with some pretty serious stuff, including having parents with a drug addiction, having friends who possibly work for drug dealers, and sexual abuse. While this definitely is a MG book, not a YA book, it is intended for somewhat older MG readers, who are ready for that kind of subject matter.

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: I wish there had been some fat rep, honestly. Tai is supposed to be "curvy", but there's not really much for actual fat rep, and that kind of sucks. No queer characters, either, or disabled characters. Not to take away from how great it is that the vast majority of the characters in this book are black, but that is a bit of a bummer. There are also a few fatmisic and ableist comments that I felt were unnecessary.

Cover comments: It's a great cover except Tai and Mila are supposed to have different body types, and they're drawn exactly the same size. If anything, Tai might be a little smaller. (Mila has the braids, Tai has the waves and side shave.) Otherwise, it's gorgeous, and I can see it having a ton of appeal to readers.

Conclusion: All in all, while I thought the plot was just a little slow at the beginning, and I had a few criticisms, I think this is a great book. If you have any readers who love Jason Reynolds' books and are looking for more like that, this is definitely a good place to point them. The way the characters talk is so real, and the setting is great. Kids who like contemporary books are gonna love it. Three and a half out of five roses, and I'll round up to four when I put it on goodreads. It's a really good summer vacation book, as well, and I also think it would make a great sequel. Like I would seriously read another book about what the girls are doing next and how they continue to grow as people and friends.

Other notes:

- Naming a set of twins Chris(topher, I assume) and Christol, so they go by Chris and Chrissy, seems a little mean.

- It's a little strange to give Mila a "Me Too" shirt, and have it not refer to the #MeToo movement, especially as she is indeed someone who has been sexually assaulted. (The t-shirt in the book is part of a set where the other one says "I'm hot".)

- I continue to think putting fake social media in books is weird.

Alright, that's all, folks!

Peace and cookies,

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