Monday, August 4, 2014

11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass

For her entire life, Amanda has celebrated her birthday with her best friend, Leo, born the same day.  But not this year.  Amanda and Leo haven't spoken to each other since a fight on their tenth birthday, and this year, on their eleventh, they'll be celebrating apart for the first time.  Amanda can't wait for the day to be over, she isn't looking forward to her birthday party at all.  Unfortunately, her birthday keeps happening over and over and over again.

It was like Groundhog Day, only for middle grade!  Every morning Amanda wakes up and it's her birthday again.  She has to repeat the same day over and over.  She's desperate to figure out why.  Amanda didn't have a great first day of her birthday.  There was a pop quiz, she tried out for cheer leading, which she doesn't even really want to do, because her friend is.  And then, of course, her party.  It's a costume party and she hates her costume and hardly anyone comes because they're all at Leo's more extravagant party.  And she hates what happened last year between her and Leo, and is still hurt by it.

As Amanda's day repeats, she starts to try different things.  At first she was too scared to change anything.  Then she starts trying small things.  And then she realizes that the same thing is happening to Leo.  They figure out it must have to do with their fight last year, so together they start unraveling the mystery, which involves their ancestors and a curse.

I enjoyed the story.  It was predictable but fun and warm.  It isn't until Amanda and Leo start working together and make up that they're able to make some progress and start figuring out how to escape the loop.  But Amanda doesn't just use her repeated time to fix her relationship with Leo.  She also learns more about herself as a person, and to be more considerate of others.  She starts to think about her older sister, who seems so perfect but actually has a lot on her mind.  Amanda helps her mother and father.  She helps herself to, by deciding to be true to herself and what she really wants, not what her friends want.  Leo also uses his time well, dealing with some bullying issues, but we don't get his perspective as much since the book is written from Amanda's point of view.

It's a great pick for those middle school kids who just want a nice read.  No heavy issues and everything works out at the end. 

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