As The Middle Grade World Turns. There should be another genre of books called MG soap opera. More and more of these family dramas appear each month. You’ll find stories about divorce, death of a parent, bullying, and suicide to name a few. This new entry by Ellen Wittlinger covers all of those and a few more. But you know what? The turmoil in Someone Else’s Shoes had me hooked.

Third person narration was the right choice to cover the unsettling times in the families of three kids. The narrative stays close to preteen Izzy, but you also get to know her younger cousin Oliver, and Ben, an often misunderstood teen. Their parents give them plenty to worry about, but these three attempt to make things right for themselves and each other.

The characters are spot on in their portrayal and the ending left me hopeful for their future. The world is not perfect. We all know families dealing with at least one of these gut wrenching issues. It’s this type of book that can provide a dose of bibliotherapy to help others going through the same challenges.

PUBLICATION DATE: Sept. 11, 2018   PAGE COUNT: 304

THE OFFICIAL WORD on what to expect courtesy of Penguin Random House:

Twelve-year-old Izzy, a budding stand-up comic, is already miserable about her father’s new marriage and the new baby on the way. Then ten-year-old cousin Oliver and his father, Uncle Henderson, move in with Izzy and her mom because Oliver’s mother committed suicide only a few months ago. And to make matters worse, Ben, the rebellious 16-year-old son of Izzy’s mother’s boyfriend, winds up staying with them, too.

But when Uncle Henderson–who has been struggling with depression after his wife’s suicide–disappears, Ben, Izzy, and Oliver set aside their differences and hatch a plan to find him. As the threesome travels in search of Henderson, they find a surrogate family in each other.


SOMEONE ELSE’S SHOES by Ellen Wittlinger

  1. Each of the characters at first seem so different, but in the end they are very much alike. A great arc for all of them.
  2. I’ve witnessed fathers dealing with a tragedy in their family with grace and a strong heart. Grieving is one thing, but leaving behind those who still need you like the dad in this story is a difficult choice. It was heartening to see how this father was given the chance to see it a different way.
  3. The road trip. So wrong and so right all at the same time.
  4. Izzy wanting to be a comedienne was a fun side story. It was the connection she had with her own dad—although references to Jerry Seinfeld, Saturday Night Live, and Melissa McCarthy may not hit home to young readers like it did for me.
  5. Classroom and family discussions are just waiting to happen with each scene. The perfect song in the story can replicate to one’s own life through listening and guidance.


A former Children’s librarian, Ellen Wittlinger is the author of two
previous novels for young adults. She lives with her husband and two
children in Swampscott, Massachusetts.

Simple advice, but not always easy to follow. Read everything you can get your hands on, all sorts of different things—fiction, nonfiction, plays, poetry, newspapers, the toothpaste tube. And then, write. If possible, write every day. In doesn’t have to be great. A lot of it won’t even be good, but the exercise of writing keeps your mind limber the same way exercising your body keeps it limber. Don’t worry about publishing anything for a long time. You wouldn’t expect to play at Carnegie Hall the first year you took piano lessons–writing is no different. You have to practice a long time before you become proficient.

For much more visit Ellen’s web site.


Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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  1. I love the MG soap opera new genre idea. This sounds like a different take on some of these issues. And I was intrigued by the title too.

  2. It does feel like a soap opera, but the many themes are realistic to youth. I like how the threesome come together to find Uncle Henderson. The characters sound very authentic.

  3. MG soap opera. Hahahaha. I like that description. It’s perfect and there are a lot of them, it seems. But kids that age eat those up with a spoon which is good. That means they are reading. This looks interesting. I will check it out. Thanks for the post.

  4. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    This novel sounds fabulous! The road trip to find Uncle Henderson sounds like a great story element. Thanks for the review!

  5. This sounds like a book that does a great job tackling challenging subjects with heart and laughter. Also, who can resist a good road trip? 🙂

  6. kozbisa says:

    First of all, I love you terminology – MG soap opera, because yes, it can seem like that, but I am am wholly onboard with it. I am so enjoying all these MG books dealing with some BIG issues, because, as you said, there are readers out there, who can relate to the characters and will get a lot out of seeing a character in a situation similar to their’s. It can also offer those not in that situation a way to empathize with someone dealing with those things. You did a wonderful job pinning down the lovely things Wittlinger did in this novel. I also liked how all three characters lost a parent in some way, and though they gained perspective about their loss with respect to Oliver’s, the author never made their situation seem not as painful.

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