Book Review of Merci Suárez Can’t Dance by Meg Medina

Meg Medina won the Newbery Medal for her middle-grade novel Merci Suárez Changes Gears, a story of a sixth-grader girl dealing with her abuelo Lolo’s newly discovered disease and a bossy classmate named Edna Santos. Merci and her close-knit Latino family won our hearts, and they are back in Merci Suárez Can’t Dance.

Merci is in seventh grade now, and Miss McDaniels puts her and Wilson Bellevue to work together in the Ram Depot. Edna Santos is still getting on Merci’s nerves with her dismissive remarks. Not only that, Edna is in charge of planning the annual Heart Ball and becoming friends with Merci’s best friend, Hannah. Meanwhile, at home, Merci keeps emotionally processing Lolo’s disease. It’s not easy, as she used to talk with Lolo about everything. Merci is close to her Tía Inés, but something is going on between her and Simón that may have to do with love, a feeling Merci herself is starting to discover.

Merci Suárez Can’t Dance by Meg Medina follows Merci as she starts to have more responsibilities at school and home and think about love. Merci has many questions at this stage of her young life. Why Tía Inés is spending time alone with Simón? Why is Hannah becoming friends with Edna, someone she knows I don’t like? Why am I staring at Wilson’s lips? Puberty is not easy, and Medina does an outstanding job again portraying the difficulty and confusion children experience during middle school. Medina also stays away from the tendency of representing Latinos in literature with vices and broken homes, doing an immense honor to the Latino community by depicting Merci’s family with strong and healthy familial ties.

Publishing Year: 2021
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Ages: 9 – 12
Lexile: Not Yet Rated

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