FICTION

The Middler

Holt. Apr. 2020. 272p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250317339.
COPY ISBN
Gr 4-6–As this compelling debut novel begins, the town of Fennis Wick is preparing to send two of their 14-year-old “eldest” off to “camp,” where they join the fight in the Quiet War. The Wanderers, those who refuse to send their eldest children to war, are considered dirty, dangerous, and deceitful by the inhabitants of Fennis Wick. The town is protected from the Wanderers by a boundary that is never to be crossed. Maggie, 11, is a “middler,” a middle child and therefore not considered special. As an eldest, her brother Jed is treated with the reverence reserved for firstborn. Maggie fully believes the doctrine she’s been taught until she happens to meet a Wanderer girl named Una and the two become friends. Maggie toys with the idea of turning Una over to the authorities, thereby becoming a hero like Jed. Before she can do so, a series of events and conversations make Maggie question everything and everyone she has ever known. Putting her own safety aside for the greater good, Maggie emerges as a heroine whose actions affect the citizens of Fennis Wick and beyond.
VERDICT This fast-moving, suspenseful dystopian novel would be a great introduction to the genre. Maggie’s bravery, kindness, and loyalty are admirable. A recommended purchase.

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