Fifth grader Susie Babuszkiewicz’s teacher is always looking for different ways to get students learning. In the Hero Project unit, you first have to choose a hero and they can’t be alive. Susie chooses Susan B Anthony not only because they are both Susie B’s but because her chosen hero championed women’s rights.
Susie has to research Susan B. Anthony’s life and then write her a series of letters. The entire book is made up of these letters. There are no chapters, only headings like DEAR SUSAN B. ANTHONY. It’s unique story telling device and one I initially had trouble getting into. The letters are like the talkative son or daughter coming home from school and telling you everything about their day.
Eventually though I was hooked, especially when Susie discovers some not so heroic events in her hero’s life. Her adoration of this famous lady takes a sudden turn for the worse. The salutations even change to DEAR NOT SUSAN B ANTHONY.
When Susie decides to run for student council president it’s an uphill climb with the competition being way more popular. Susie deals with broken friendships, a mean classmate, and tries to understand the person she is and wants to become. She also searches for answers as to why her “former” hero made some questionable choices.
You’ll enjoy getting to know this feisty preteen. Susie B. Won’t Back Down is recommended for both boys and girls.
BOOK BIRTHDAY: OCTOBER 5, 2021 PAGE COUNT: 272
FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT SUSIE B. WON’T BACK DOWN by Margaret Finnegan
- College aged brother, Lock, has many moments of brotherly advice for his confused sibling. Some of it actually works and their short talks throughout the pages were highlights.
- What you read on the surface of a hero doesn’t always tell the full story. A great lesson to always dig for the truth, even if you’re in 5th grade. I’ve never seen it presented like this in an MG book.
- Susie has several flaws, and they are expertly brought forth and addressed. It’s an initial coming of age story for a yet-to-be teen. I’d like to see more books about Susie set during her upcoming middle school years.
- It was nice to read a story where the parents weren’t divorced or dead. I’ve seen way too many books recently with this family trait.
- Shifts in friendships can happen frequently during the school aged years. Susie takes on this challenge and the results are satisfying.
ADVICE FROM THE AUTHOR, Margaret Finnegan
“I’ve learned that you need to trust seven-year-old you. Seven-year-old you knows exactly what gives your life meaning and joy. Seven-year-old you is pretty brilliant that way.”
Margaret Finnegan is the author of the middle-grade novels Susie B. Won’t Back Down and We Could Be Heroes. Her writing often focuses on themes on inclusion, hard choices, and being true to yourself. She also makes a really good chocolate cake. To learn more, and to download free discussion guides, visit MargaretFinnegan.com.
Check out the fun mock newspaper, The Susie B News–available here!
You can also read my review of her other middle grade book—We Could Be Heroes from a post last year.
Giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a copy of Susie B. Won’t Back Down, courtesy of Atheneum/S&S (U.S. addresses). Just leave a comment below by Sunday, October 10th to enter. Instead of commenting, you can also enter by letting me know via email at gpcolo[at]gmail[dot]com.
Be sure to visit the other MMGM bloggers who have gotten this month off to a shining start.