Merci Suárez Plays It Cool

Candlewick. (Merci Suárez: Bk. 3). Aug. 2022. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781536219463.
Gr 4-8–Merci Suárez’s final volume will resonate with kids as much as the previous entries in this acclaimed series. The eighth grader continues to navigate her crush, growing independence, and Lolo’s failing health with earnestness. Merci experiences other middle school milestones like football games, overnight field trips, and having to choose between new friends and old. Cuban traditions and family drama are woven organically into the narrative. Medina never talks down to her readers; the narrative and pitch-perfect dialogue capture the angst of adolescence with honesty and respect. The title character is relatable and believably real. She makes mistakes and owns up to them and doesn’t always make the soundest decisions. But tweens will certainly see themselves in her. The final chapter of Merci’s story is bittersweet. Longtime fans will cheer the middle schooler on as she matures and reaches new heights—but they will also miss being front row to the adventures of the dauntless tween and her loving family.
VERDICT No middle grade collection will be complete without Merci’s heartfelt novels.

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