I wanted to read this book because of the review another reviewer wrote on Amazon. It sounded like a book my children would enjoy when they are in middle school.
When I began reading this book, it brought back all of my painful memories from junior high. It tore me up to hear how the main character, Elise, talked to her childhood best friend and how she saw life. I was a middle school teacher. I know that a lot of kids see life this way (she says her life sucks at the beginning of the book and goes on about it), but it's not what I want my kids to hear and have reinforced in their heads. Elise's life at home actually doesn't suck. She has some issues at school that are the catalyst for her growth in this book. These issues at school make her life miserable and affect how she treats and sees the people around her.
Let me be up front...I am a Christian. So, I believe that we can rely on God and trust Him. The world would have us believe that the only person we can trust is ourselves and most of the time our family and close friends. The eight keys of this book are about teaching the main character how to grow up, basically--the "keys". But, these keys all point to one truth that the author puts forth--that the answers to life were all inside of her.
The story is a good one and I like the development of the main character. The end was redeeming and she grows--as all middle schoolers do--to see how to treat people and how not to. By the end, I liked the main character and was glad to see her grow. But, because of the moral theme to the story and how it completely goes against what I believe, I won't recommend this book. There is one exception I would make to this statement, though. If a Christian parent is looking for a book that clearly states what the world values and the messages it tells kids, this would be a great book to start such a discussion and then discuss it in light of the Gospel.
Reading this book made me think a lot about why I would or wouldn't recommend this book. Most parents probably wouldn't take issue with anything in this book. But, you know me, I think deeply about the messages books send to readers. Sometimes perhaps, I think a bit too deeply!
Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book from Wendy Lamb Books.