Being Mary Bennet

HarperTeen. Mar. 2022. 384p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063060135.
Gr 8 Up–Marnie Barnes is the quintessential middle child, outshone by her older sisters and upstaged by her younger ones. Desperate to prove her worth to her family, she designs a program for children to read aloud to shelter dogs, hoping that it will be the key to her winning the Hunt Prize, an elite award presented to only one senior at her high school. But when her roommate calls her out for being a Mary Bennet (the quiet, annoying, and nerdy middle sister in Pride and Prejudice), Marnie becomes determined to turn herself into the heroine of her own story. Can she come out of her bookworm shell and prove herself to everyone around her? Literary references, friendship, family drama, adorable dogs—this book has it all! It is full of realistic characters whom readers will be rooting for. While the plot sometimes feels a bit issue-heavy, Peterson’s debut novel deftly balances these issues with lighthearted fun and an incredibly sweet romance. The secondary characters are fully developed, and Marnie’s own character growth progresses naturally throughout the story.
VERDICT A solid purchase for your teen collection; fans of Jane Austen will eat up this playful contemporary homage to Pride and Prejudice.

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