Thursday, September 19, 2013
by Wendy Mass
Format: Chapter Book
Audience: Grades 5 to 7
Publication Date: March 1, 2010
Rory can't wait for her twelfth birthday. Her parents are a bit overprotective, so any time she has asked for something over the years (pet, pierced ears, rollercoaster), she's been told, wait until you're twelve. Being the organized girl that she is, Rory has kept careful track of all of these promises and now her parents will have to pay up. But, just before her birthday, a strange little woman tells her that she won't get what she wants until she sees what she needs. Instead of searching for what she truly needs, Rory starts off on her list, trying to become cooler as teen heartthrob Jake Harrison starts filming a movie at her school. Rory's story is funny, sweet, and true to life in that she doesn't understand all the good in her life, and she finally sees what really counts in the end.
In this companion to Mass' 11 Birthdays, Willow Falls is again featured, and Amanda and Leo make appearances, but this is not a continuation of their story. This time, it is all about Rory and how getting what she thinks she wants ends up being a bigger curse than blessing. Oh, how I can remember what it was like to shave my legs for the first time and try to put in contacts! Poor Rory! At least I was trying out those experiences months and months apart!
It's funny that Rory has a talent for blending into the background, and that's what she needs as an extra for this new Jake Harrison movie, but once she gets that job, she begins standing out for all of the wrong reasons. I think that many readers will relate to that feeling. I'm sure that I'm not the only bookworm out there that feels pretty invisible. Bookworms tend to be a quiet and blendable people after all.
The ending was perfect. Just lovely. Rory finally understands what she needs, and gets it in a big way. That whole last part is just a big celebration of her wonderfulness. I've come to expect nothing less from Wendy Mass. Her books always seem to strike the perfect balance of positive, life-affirming ending with no sappy dribble. It's marvelous.
Up next, 13 Gifts, then The Last Present, which I picked up at ALA this summer. The Willow Falls books have been a perfect break from my less-than-stellar reality and I will be a little sad to see it all end.
Give this to any reader that is trying to grow up just a little too fast. It's not that they shouldn't grow-up, it's that you have to fully understand what you need before you can get what you want.