Izzy Malone isn’t your typical middle schooler. She wears camouflage combat boots, the stars are her only friends, and after a month she’s set a new record for the most trips to her principal’s office.
But Izzy’s life isn’t so charming these days. The kids at school think she’s a mouthy misfit, her musical prodigy sister gets all the attention at home, and no one takes Izzy’s determination to compete in her small town’s Great Pumpkin Race seriously.
When Izzy’s antics land her in hot water, her parents enroll her in Mrs. Whippie’s Earn Your Charm School. At first Izzy thinks it sounds stupid—her manners are just fine, thanks—but Mrs. Whippie’s first assignment proves intriguing. Tucked inside a letter is a shiny charm bracelet and instructions telling her she will “Earn Her Charm” by performing a series of tasks. For each task Izzy completes, she’ll receive a charm to place on her bracelet. “Complete them all,” the letter says, “and you will have earned a prize unlike any other.”
Soon Izzy’s adding charms to her bracelet. But when a task goes seriously awry and threatens to derail her mother’s budding political career, Izzy has her hands full proving she’s not an emerging juvenile delinquent. Add in some middle school mean girls, a giant pumpkin that could be the answer to all her problems, and discovering she might have a crush on the boy she accidentally punched in the face, and Izzy may just pull it all together and Earn Her Charm. And she’s about to find out the best kind of friends are just like stars: Bright and beautiful, appearing just when you need them, to shine a little bit of light on a dark night.
Simon & Schuster / Aladdin M!X Publishing
Expected Publication Date: November 29th, 2016
Preorder a copy here!
Quick Reasons: oh my penguins, this read is SO adorable; poignant, powerful, poetic prose; the morals and statements this book makes are ground-breaking; this is a book the whole world needs to read; quirky, endearing characters; a wide range of subjects and focuses; Jenny Lundquist just jumped to the top of my “need to read more of” list
So many HUGE thanks to Jenny Lundquist and Simon & Schuster / Aladdin M!X Publishing for sending me a free ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.
You know, penguins… I really ought to read more middle grade. Every time I finish a midgrade novel, I tell myself this. And every time….I somehow wind up forgetting, until the next time I pick up another midgrade. I just honestly…there’s something SO fun, and innocent, and awesome about middle grade novels. They’re ALWAYS more focused on the morals than on romance (because duh, at this age most kids still believe the opposite sex has cooties). This book by Jenny Lundquist? Reminded me once again why I fell in love with midgrade, and CONTINUE to fall in love with it.
These characters are vibrant. They are loud. They are all quirky in their ways, and self-conscious, and confused, and conflicted. There are so many emotions, there is SO MUCH human nature, playing throughout this entire journey…and yet every word, every smear of ink, is there for a purpose. Every sentence sets the tone, makes a statement, and left me breathless–which is why, when it came time for me to choose my quotes for this review, I struggled. I had NINE quotes bookmarked. I couldn’t help but add every single one of them to goodreads after finishing–Jenny Lundquist’s words are just too powerful, too poignant, to remain unread.
I absolutely adored the “pen pal” aspect of this novel. In an age where writing physical letters has devolved into emails and monosyllabic text messages… Well, I can imagine the letters featured in this book–and the relationship built around the sending and receiving of them–was something truly special. The fact that someone went out of their way to listen to, and validate, Izzy in ways she’s never really gotten before… that just made it better, in my mind. And the prose is so gorgeously poetic, it called for letters–for an outlet where the abstract, instead of the realistic, could come out to play more. Because Izzy is, in the end, in middle school–and still bursting with creative potential.
And the morals–the morals and the statements this read makes are SO super important. I feel this, in particular, is a book that the whole world needs to read–ESPECIALLY right now, with all the hatred that’s flying around. Ideas include: bullying; remaining true to yourself; being kind to others; familial love; standing tall under pressure… I mean, I could keep going, but there are a LOT of morals floating in these pages…and each one is important. Each one is poignant, and powerful, and NEEDING to be read.
This was a super entertaining, humorous, fantastic read! The cover is also super adorable, though you won’t necessarily understand all of the artwork until you turn the last page. The characters are charming and vibrantly unique; the focus on relationships and morals is engaging and heart-wrenching; and I have, I fear (though “fear” isn’t quite the right word!) discovered a new author to devour. I recommend this to literally everyone, but especially: lovers of midgrade; those who sometimes forget how unique and special they are; and those who enjoy snarky, sassy characters. I cannot wait to pick up my next Jenny Lundquist book; I only regret not having done so sooner!