You Go First
Over the course of a week, Charlotte and Ben—online friends connected only by a Scrabble game—will intersect in unexpected ways, as they struggle to navigate the turmoil of middle school. This engaging story about growing up and finding your place in the world by the winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature will appeal to fans of Rebecca Stead and Rita Williams-Garcia.
Kelly gives a believable reason for the two to have connected on line, and there is some discussion of online safety, even though Charlotte later makes some bad decisions and sets off for the city on her own. Technology is present in many children's lives today, so it is realistic to include it, but hard to do so in a way that won't become dated very soon. (Myspace or pagers, anyone?)
The problems that both children face are ones that are fairly common. Parents become ill, many parents get divorced, and other children at school are not always kind. It is good to see that both Charlotte and Ben do have some caring adults in their lives, but sometimes a friend can offer much different help from an adult.
Readers who enjoy introspective books that cover serious topics, such as Buyea's Because of Mr. Terupt, Bauer's Almost Home, Palaccio's Wonder and Sonnenblick's Falling Over Sideways will enjoy learning how Charlotte and Ben deal with the difficulties that life hands them.