WELCOME TO ANOTHER EDITION OF MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY with a very special and timely book for the beginning of the school year…
For seventh-grader Mila, it starts with some boys giving her an unwanted hug on the school blacktop. A few days later, at recess, one of the boys (and fellow trumpet player) Callum tells Mila it’s his birthday, and asks her for a “birthday hug.” He’s just being friendly, isn’t he? And how can she say no? But Callum’s hug lasts a few seconds too long, and feels…weird. According to her friend, Zara, Mila is being immature and overreacting. Doesn’t she know what flirting looks like?
But the boys don’t leave Mila alone. On the bus. In the halls. During band practice—the one place Mila could always escape.
It doesn’t feel like flirting—so what is it? Thanks to a chance meeting, Mila begins to find solace in a new place: karate class. Slowly, with the help of a fellow classmate, Mila learns how to stand her ground and how to respect others—and herself.
Year Published: 2019
MY TAKE: And this is a middle grade story? You bet and perfect as a discussion starter for fifth grade on up. The short chapters beg to be talked about. Begin your discussion with What would you do?
No one should be put in the position that Mila finds herself in. She’s the victim of several male classmates who are playing a game they keep track of in scorecard fashion. It seems like innocent fun to them but it isn’t—especially for Mila. They hug her, get entirely too close in the halls and bus, and make inappropriate comments.
As I breezed through the chapters my heart went out to Mila, but I kept shaking my head thinking “Go ask an adult for help!” The more I read it was understandable why she didn’t. Her mom is having job troubles and doesn’t need one more thing to think about; Dad is absent and doesn’t pay child support; her female counselor is away on maternity leave. When Mila does see a male counselor, he doesn’t listen the right way to her plea.
Thankfully, she finally finds an unlikely ally. The ending is an unexpected but hopeful resolution. My hope is MAYBE HE JUST LIKES YOU will be a staple for both boys and girls in classrooms and at home for years to come.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT
Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee
- The depiction of middle school life in 7th grade is spot on. Friendships, misunderstandings, and trying to find your voice are all woven together in a smooth sounding concert of words.
- The approach used in the plot is honest—both for the kids and adults. They all have to come to terms with the consequences of their own behavior.
- Mila’s friends. I would enjoy another story delving into what makes them tick— especially Max who is also the victim of bullying.
- The conversations coming about as a result of the story will have many parents wishing they’d had the book when they were a tween or teen. It resonates with adults just as much as the targeted audience.
- Having Band and Karate a part of the plot.
A THOUGHT FROM AUTHOR, BARBARA DEE
I’ve faced some tough challenges in my life, and I know many kids have, too. Reading about characters who face similar challenges can be empowering. And if you’re a kid who hasn’t personally faced those challenges, reading can open your heart, help you to develop empathy.
Oh, and by the way: just because a book is about a serious subject doesn’t mean it can’t be fun or funny! My goal is to write about serious topics in a humorous, kid-friendly way. (For more visit Barbara’s author web page)
I received an arc for my honest review. Please comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!