Monday, June 21, 2010

11 Birthdays

11 Birthdays, by Wendy Mass, is kind of like Groundhog Day for kids: the characters are experiencing the same day over and over and over again, but this time, the characters are a pair of 11 year olds.

Amanda and Leo have known each other since, well, since birth. And every year, they've celebrated their birthdays together. Until their 10th birthday, when Amanda overheard Leo tell some boys that he didn't really like hanging out with a girl so much anymore. Devastated, Amanda runs away from their party and cuts off contact with Leo completely.

It's one year later and Amanda is facing her 11th birthday alone. Worse, she and Leo are having competing parties on the same night and it's looking like Amanda's is going to be the losing venue. She botches her gymnastics team try-out, her party flops, her mom gets fired and all Amanda can be glad of is that the day is finally over. Except that it's not. She wakes up the following morning to discover that it's her birthday again. No one seems to realize that the day is repeating itself but Amanda and she's too weirded out to know what to do.

Eventually, Leo and Amanda make up and find a way to mend the repeating loop in their lives, but not before they learn some lessons about friendship and finding your place in the world and forgiveness and understanding.

This was a lovely book, one that I passed on to my 9 year old immediately. It's perfect for the 9-13 crowd and it's blessedly free of the OMGs that seem to be everywhere in tween literature. Because the main characters are male and female, this one could work for either boys or girls, but it may seem more like a girl's book because the story is narrated by Amanda.

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