Review of Merci Suárez Can’t Dance

Merci Suárez Can’t Dance
by Meg Medina
Intermediate, Middle School    Candlewick    384 pp.    g
4/21    978-0-7636-9050-2    $17.99

Merci navigates the troubles of home and seventh grade — and the gap between the two — with her irresistible combination of spirit and heart in this follow-up to the Newbery-winning Merci Suárez Changes Gears (rev. 9/18). Though she seems more self-assured these days, Merci resents the many changes taking place around her: her brother Roli away at college, Lolo’s deteriorating condition, ­Hannah’s growing friendship with Merci’s archenemy, and the growing confusion surrounding new friend Wilson. At the annual “Heart Ball” school dance, Merci only wants to participate from the place she has the most confidence and control — behind the camera — but even that goes awry. Vibrant and insightful, the novel explores the complexities of friendship and family as well as first romance. All the while, Merci stays busy getting herself into trouble and finding her way out of it again. Her relationships at school strengthen, to mirror the bonds she has with her family at home, and when school and home lives merge, Merci discovers the best way to manage change is with a bit of bravery, a welcoming attitude, and people you trust. And by the end of this funny, heartwarming book, Merci does dance — with family and friends, on an intimidating stage at her exclusive private school in the first performance of the new Suárez School of Latin Dance.

From the May/June 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Roach
Julie Roach

Julie Roach, chair of the 2020 Caldecott Committee, manages youth services at the Cambridge Public Library in Massachusetts. She also teaches children’s literature at Simmons University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science and at Lesley University.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Community matters. Stay up to date on breaking news, trends, reviews, and more.

Get access to reviews of books, ebooks, and more


We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing