Solving for M

Solving for M
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
Release Date
May 28, 2019
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Perfect for fans of Raymie Nightingale and The Fourteenth Goldfish, this heartfelt middle-grade novel seamlessly melds STEAM content with first loss in an honest and striking debut.

When Mika starts fifth grade at the middle school, her neat life gets messy. Separated from old friends and starting new classes, Mika is far from her comfort zone. And math class is the most confusing of all, especially when her teacher Mr. Vann assigns math journals. Art in math? Who's ever heard of such a thing?

But when challenges arise at home, Mika realizes there are no easy answers. Maybe, with some help from friends, family, and one unique teacher, a math journal can help her work out problems, and not just the math ones.

Debut author Jennifer Swender delivers poignant prose and illustrator Jennifer Naalchigar brings Mika's journal to life in this perfect equation of honesty plus hope that adds up to a heartwarming coming-of-age story.

Editor review

1 review
gorgeous story of friendship and math
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
SOLVING FOR M is a beautiful and enthralling middle grade novel about finding your way in a new school and dealing with parental illness. Mika is starting middle school in the second pod, a group of classes and classmates designed to make middle school feel a little smaller. Her previous best friend is in the first pod, so Mika is a little nervous. Her art class also isn't covering drawing this year, which is her favorite thing.

In math class, they are asked to keep a math journal, which sounds strange at first, but it is a way for Mika to express herself and continue drawing. Math is quickly becoming her favorite class. She also finds some unlikely friends in Dee Dee, who has the seriously coolest science-themed shirts, and Chelsea, who loves school. At the same time, her mother has a suspicious mole removed and Mika worries over her and the treatments she is getting.

What I loved: I absolutely adored Mika, her friends, family support, and the representation of STEM. Math has never seemed like so much fun, and I was totally there for it! Mika is going through some big things, and I love the support she and her family had plus the way she is able to work though it, in part, with math and her math journal. This was truly beautifully well done. The book is a pleasure to read from start to finish.

Final verdict: SOLVING FOR M is an incredible middle grade novel about finding your way, loving math, and dealing with bumps in the road. Mika, her friends, family, and her math teacher were all amazingly well crafted characters. The math journal entries appearing throughout as illustrations only add to the appeal of this fantastic book. Highly recommend for anyone looking for a heartfelt and hopeful contemporary fiction.
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