Medina, Meg

Merci Suárez Plays It Cool

(1) 4-6 The final installment of the trilogy (beginning with Merci Suárez Changes Gears, rev. 9/18) opens at the start of eighth grade, with Merci disappointed not to be assigned any classes with her close friends. She does have homeroom with some soccer teammates, but will these popular girls want to be friends with her off the field? Merci worries about her family, her grandfather Lolo's failing health, and her changing feelings for Wilson; but she also has plenty to look forward to, including soccer tryouts and the eighth-grade sleepaway field trip. When the soccer girls ask if she wants to be their fourth roommate on the trip, Merci, tempted by the invitation, fails to tell them she has already agreed to room with her friends, which puts everyone in an uncomfortable situation. This story's strength lies in the authenticity of Merci's character and her refreshingly sincere responses to the world around her, even and especially when self-conscious or misguided. Her home among her Cuban American family may not always be the refuge she wants, but it is full of love, support, Cuban traditions, and, occasionally, something delicious made by or with Abuela. There are subtle indications throughout that suggest what dreams Merci and other characters might pursue in the future, and the book closes on a note of promise as Merci leads her team out onto the field for their first game.


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