Growing up is full of challenges like the one Marisol faces. She’s scared to climb the big tree in her backyard even though her friend Jada does it with ease. How will she ever get over her fear? A gentle story ensues making it a great starter book for jumping up to middle grade stories. Last Friday I featured another beginning middle grade book with Nina Soni as the MC.

What makes MAYBE MAYBE MARISOL RAINEY unique is Newberry winning author, Erin Entrada Kelly, was inspired to write the story based on her own childhood. Here’s the synopsis from Harper Collins:

Marisol Rainey’s mother was born in the Philippines. Marisol’s father works and lives part-time on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. And Marisol, who has a big imagination and likes to name inanimate objects, has a tree in her backyard she calls Peppina . . . but she’s way too scared to climb it. This all makes Marisol the only girl in her small Louisiana town with a mother who was born elsewhere and a father who lives elsewhere (most of the time)—the only girl who’s fearful of adventure and fun.

Will Marisol be able to salvage her summer and have fun with Jada, her best friend? Maybe. Will Marisol figure out how to get annoying Evie Smythe to leave her alone? Maybe. Will Marisol ever get to spend enough real time with her father? Maybe. Will Marisol find the courage to climb Peppina? Maybe.  

Short chapters with frequent illustrations opens this up to read-aloud opportunities both at home before lights out or the five minutes before the bell rings at school. Marisol has a loving family although older brother Oz can be a real pain in her side. Mrs. Rainey is a 7th grade science teacher while Mr. Rainey is away at work most of the time. Marisol wishes he were home more. There are frequent “Dad-Head” times when they face chat with him.

Marisol is a character whose story should be continued. Her likeable ways will especially appeal to girls who will want to be along for the ride when Marisol faces her next obstacle.



  1. Some of the names Marisol gives to objects will make you smile. She’s named the refrigerator BUSTER after Buster Keaton an actor from long ago. Not too many 8-years-olds would even know about silent movies but they are one of Marisol’s favorites.
  2. A realistic plot sure to please those looking how to face their fears. Something all of us have gone through.
  3. Friendships are so important and the one going on here is special. Supportive in all ways.
  4. The Magnolia tree is well portrayed and brought back memories when I’d visit cousins in Louisiana and Mississippi.
  5. Cats. And lots of them.


New York Times–bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly was awarded the Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe and a Newbery Honor for We Dream of Space. She grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and now lives in Delaware. She is a professor of children’s literature in the graduate fiction and publishing programs at Rosemont College, where she earned her MFA, and is on the faculty at Hamline University. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Philippines Free Press Literary Award for Short Fiction and the Pushcart Prize. Erin Entrada Kelly’s debut novel, Blackbird Fly, was a Kirkus Best Book, a School Library Journal Best Book, an ALSC Notable Book, and an Asian/Pacific American Literature Honor Book. She is also the author of The Land of Forgotten Girls, winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature; You Go First, a Spring 2018 Indie Next Pick; Lalani of the Distant Sea, an Indie Next Pick; and Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey, which she also illustrated. The author’s mother was the first in her family to immigrate to the United States from the Philippines, and she now lives in Cebu. (For more about Erin and her Favorites visit her author web site)

I received an ARC in exchange for my honest review. Make a comment below and be sure to visit all the bloggers joining me on today’s MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY.


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Janet Smart says:

    Hi Greg. I like the sounds of this one, and I think kids will like it also. Love the cover. Thanks for the review.

  2. This book is perfect for those who are reading longer books. It addresses kid’s fears — nothing like starting small and trying. I spent my childhood climbing any tree I could. I loved to sit in the cherry tree in my backyard — it was my refuge and treehouse — and a way to hide from three younger siblings. Nice pick for summer reads.

  3. Andrea Mack says:

    I will have to read this one! It sounds really interesting. Books about facing fears are so important. Coincidentally, I also have a review of another book by this author on my blog today. 🙂

  4. Sue Heavenrich says:

    I’ve been looking for “younger” MG books… this one looks like one I need to read.

  5. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    I haven’t had the chance to read any of Erin Entrada Kelly’s books yet, but I get the sense that I’m definitely missing out! This sounds like such a fun story, and Marisol sounds like a delightful protagonist—I love that she loves silent movies! And cats are of course a plus. Thanks so much for the great review!

  6. I just saw this title somewhere else and it intrigued me. I look forward to getting my hands on a copy! 🙂

  7. I love books for emerging readers. This one sounds like a lot of fun. I will check it out. Thanks for the review.

  8. Pingback: SURELY SURELY MARISOL RAINEY | Always in the Middle…

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