You Go First

Benjamin Boxer and Charlotte Lockard have a lot in common: they're both smart, they love playing online games of Scrabble together and they're both having a terrible week. Unfortunately, they're about a thousand miles apart. In Pennsylvania, 12-year-old Charlotte's dad just suffered a major heart attack and her best friend is slowly pulling away. Meanwhile, in Louisiana, Ben's parents have announced they're divorcing and his only real-life friends have disappeared into the crowds of middle school. As Ben comes to understand his own loneliness, he begins to wonder if Charlotte could be his friend outside of the game, too. " 'Do you think our generation relies too much on digital communication?' " he texts her. " 'Never thought about it,' " she responds, " 'Why?' " And an Internet-age friendship is born.

Told in Charlotte's and Ben's dual points of view over the course of a week, with charming cityscape illustrations dividing each of the days, You Go First by Erin Estrada Kelly is a delicate look at friendship, bullying and coming of age. Ben and Charlotte are sympathetic characters, each with their own charm. Ben's persistent heart and logical nature are relentless; his initial response to his parents' impending divorce--"it just didn't make any sense, and he lived in a world of sensible things"--is achingly heartfelt. Charlotte's struggles with losing her best friend while also facing the potential loss of her father are introspective and profound. You Go First is a brilliant follow-up to Entrada Kelly's Newbery winner, Hello, Universe, and challenges readers to rethink the rules of friendship. --Kyla Paterno, former YA and children's book buyer

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