“Treat others how you want to be treated.”

I first heard that phrase from my dad after I’m sure I had done something stupid. The importance of that learning for me and others often takes a back seat in middle school where bullying behavior makes one act before thinking about their actions.

Mallory Moss has a popular friend and is finally fitting into the school culture at Gibbons Academy. But now that Jennifer Chan has moved into the neighborhood things get a bit confusing. Jennifer is obsessed with aliens and their existence. She even has journals filled with her findings.

At first Mallory hangs out with the new girl away from the staring eyes at school. The popular crowd sees Jennifer as someone who doesn’t do what is expected in middle school: wear the right clothes, control your image, and know your place. What becomes known as “the Incident” has Mallory and her school friends taking bullying to the worst extremes. Jennifer must be knocked down and put in her place for acting so weird and above all.

The result is one they don’t expect: Jennifer disappears. The police think she has run away but no one is sure why. Deep down Mallory believes the incident was the cause but maybe the real answer is Jennifer has been abducted by aliens. She uses clues from the journals and whether you believe in aliens or not the evidence that it really happened grows. Mallory tries to find Jennifer and the climatic ending reveals all

It’s a tough lesson about friendship, family, and the power often sought after for success. Finding your true identity has never had such a heartfelt look. The first person narration alternates between “THEN” and “NOW” JENNIFER CHAN IS NOT ALONE is the most honest view of bullying I’ve ever read and perhaps one that should be experienced by every new 6th grader.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: April 26, 2022 PAGE COUNT: 288


  1. The author note in the back pages is not to be missed even if you don’t read the book. It’s an honest, heartbreaking look as to why she wrote this story.
  2. It’s wonderfully played out as to the mystery of what really caused Jennifer to disappear—abducted by aliens or some awful human, the so called “Incident” that triggered hateful emotions, or a reason no one has thought of yet.
  3. The actions of others can impact a life forever. A lesson worth it’s time in gold.
  4. A realistic portrayal of a typical middle school social structure. It’s about status and thinking about yourself first. Helpful discussions and reflections will for sure be the result for those diving into this story.
  5. How do you follow up a Newbery award winning title, When you Trap a Tiger? You write something equally as good of course!


Saavedra Photography

Tae Keller is the Newbery award winning and New York Times bestselling author of When You Trap a Tiger and The Science of Breakable Things. She grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she subsisted on kimchi, purple rice, and stories. Now, she writes about biracial girls trying to find their voices, and lives in Seattle with her husband and a multitude of books.


Please comment below if you have the time. It is much appreciated.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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  1. This sounds like an interesting twist on bullying. It sounds like a book I’d really like. I’m adding it to my TBR list.

  2. Sounds really good. I love the “aliens” framing though it is obviously about so much more. One for my list! Thanks for the review!

  3. Danielle Hammelef says:

    This book does sound like a must read and I have it on my TBR.

  4. carolbaldwin says:

    This sounds amazing. I’m going to suggest to Elliott to that he read it!

  5. Wow, this sounds like a book we should not miss. Bullying the extreme is not acceptable. Am curious how the aliens playout. (If you want a credible source on aliens, the Travel channel on TV has a program called “UFO Witness.” Interesting.

  6. Max @ Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    This book looks fantastic—I remember seeing it on Tae Keller’s website, but I didn’t realize it would be as compellingly written as it seems to be (even though she did write When You Trap a Tiger). I’ve made note of this on my reading list—thanks so much for the great review, Greg!

  7. Wow! This sounds very intriguing. It also sounds like it may be a hard book to read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one!

  8. This book sounds incredible! What a fascinating premise. I am putting this one way up on my TBR list. Thanks for a great review.

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