Subscribe to The Horn Book

Review of Merci Suárez Changes Gears

Merci Suárez Changes Gears
by Meg Medina
Intermediate, Middle School    Candlewick    361 pp.    g
9/18    978-0-7636-9049-6    $16.99

Working-class Cuban American girl Mercedes “Merci” Suárez’s life in South Florida consists of spending time with her extended family and attending elite Seaward Pines Academy, where the sixth grader does community service to pay for her tuition. Now in her second year, Merci must participate in the Sunshine Buddies program, mentoring new-kid Michael Clark (“a boy!”) and enduring the teasing of mean girl Edna Santos. In the midst of growing up and trying to find a school-life balance, she experiences the power dynamics between her Mami and Papi; navigates her relationship with her studious brother Roli; witnesses the struggles of her tía, Inéz, as she runs a bakery and raises young twins; and worries about her abuelo, Lolo, who no longer seems like himself. Medina brings depth, warmth, and heart to her characters and their voices, because she never shies away from portraying this family’s flaws and includes frank conversations around difficult issues, such as Alzheimer’s. Medina (Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, rev. 3/13; Burn Baby Burn, rev. 3/16) consistently and assuredly portrays Latinx girls and women who grapple with their insecurities while learning about themselves and their worlds, and middle-grade heroine Merci is a fine example. Accurate and natural use of Spanish words and sayings that fit each character’s tone builds authenticity. Medina writes with sincerity and humor to convey the experience of growing up in a close-knit family that tends to mingle too much in everyone’s business while unfailingly and dedicatedly supporting and helping one another.

From the September/October 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Sujei Lugo

Sujei Lugo is a former elementary school librarian at the University of Puerto Rico Elementary School and currently works as a children’s librarian at the Boston Public Library, Connolly Branch. She is a doctoral candidate in Library and Information Science at Simmons College, focusing her research on anti-racist children’s librarianship.

Share

Comments

  1. Alicia Garcia says:

    I am excited to read this book. At Mountain View School District, we are using Social-Emotional learning to reach our students and engage them in reading. This title would be a valuable addition to our selections for Belonging. We start out the school year with a warm welcome and help each student feel part of our school by helping them feel how important they are and that they are part of our class. Our district and community can identify with the character and the dual language “flip-flopping” in conversation. Thank you for putting our language in print.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind

*