STARRED REVIEW
August 2017

Growing in fits and starts

By Tommy Greenwald, illustrated by J.P. Coovert

Tommy Greenwald, author of the popular Charlie Joe Jackson series, is back with The Real Us, another look at middle school life. Greenwald has a knack for capturing the voices of young teenagers, making it easy to understand their states of mind and points of view.

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Tommy Greenwald, author of the popular Charlie Joe Jackson series, is back with The Real Us, another look at middle school life. Greenwald has a knack for capturing the voices of young teenagers, making it easy to understand their states of mind and points of view.

Alternating chapters are written in the first-person voices of three eighth-graders: Damian, the new kid who sweats too much, Calista, the pretty, popular girl; and Laura, average, athletic and Calista’s former best friend. The entire story takes place over the first five days of the school year, and it’s amazing how much can happen in such a short time. By the time the First Week Dance rolls around on Friday, Damian has discovered that he doesn’t have to hide who he is, Calista learns that “pretty is as pretty does,” and Laura discovers that self-acceptance isn’t something you can just talk about, it’s something you have to find inside.

The Real Us may sound a bit facile in its summary, but the excellent writing and spot-on coming-of-age story make it a must-have for any middle school library. The illustrations were not available for review.

Jennifer Bruer Kitchel is the librarian for a pre-K through eighth-level Catholic school.

This article was originally published in the August 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Real Us

The Real Us

By Tommy Greenwald, illustrated by J.P. Coovert
Roaring Brook
ISBN 9781626721715

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