Merci Suárez Changes Gears

by Meg Medina

Hardcover, 2018



Local notes

Fic Med




Candlewick Press (MA) (2018), Edition: Illustrated, 368 pages


Juvenile Fictio Juvenile Literatur HTML: Winner of the 2019 Newbery Medal Thoughtful, strong-willed sixth-grader Merci Suarez navigates difficult changes with friends, family, and everyone in between in a resonant new novel from Meg Medina. Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don't have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci's school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna's jealousy. Things aren't going well at home, either: Merci's grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately ?? forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. No one in her family will tell Merci what's going on, so she's left to her own worries, while also feeling all on her own at school. In a coming-of-age tale full of humor and wisdom, award-winning author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school ?? and the steadfast connection that defines fami… (more)

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368 p.; 8.13 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member jackiewark
Entering sixth grade is tricky enough on its own for Merci Suarez, yet she is dealing with other difficult issues, too. Edna Santos, rich and privileged, is snooty to Merci given the fact the Merci and her brother Roli are at their private school tuition free. Edna's jealousy is compounded when
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Merci is paired with popular, handsome Michael Clark as her Sunshine Buddy.

However, the biggest change in the Suarez family is Lolo's rapid decline into Alzheimer Disease. At first, Merci doesn't realize what is happening to her grandfather as he falls off his bike, is mean to her grandmother, and forgets who she is occasionally, but it all comes to a head and Merci finds out that her family has been keeping this secret from her. Secrets are a no-no is the Suarez family, yet they all decided it was best to keep Merci in the dark.

When Merci finds out about the deception, she is furious. After all, what is family if they don't confide and lean on each other in trying times. Eventually, Merci comes to terms with all of it and even finds some good friends at the school. In this coming-of-age story, Merci learns that life isn't all happiness and sunshine 24/7 and she has to navigate some rough spots along with the joy.

Merci Suarez Changes Gears is a realistic portrayal of family dynamics, school bullies, and growing up...yet, it is a story that has been told many times. Some young readers will definitely see themselves in the pages and may find a way to hope. The one bright spot, for me, was near-genius Roli who couldn't manage to park the car or drive over 20 miles per hour. His storyline was a hoot.

Thank you to LibraryThing Early Reviewers, Candlewick Press, and Meg Medina for the ARC.
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LibraryThing member susanehh
Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

I received an ARC of the book. Merci Suarez is a bright eleven year old from a working class family. She's a scholarship student at a very good private school and this book opens as she is starting the 6th grade. Merci likes photography, soccer and spending
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time with her grandfather, Lolo. She has all the usual worries as she starts middle school : will she fit in and find friends, how do you deal with the boys who are suddenly showing an interest, and what about the mean girls? All of the usual middle school drama. While Merci is attempting to navigate the 6th grade, home is becoming confusing. Her grandfather is acting strange, forgetting things and losing he temper for no reason, and no one in the family is talking about it.
This book very sensitively handles the difficulties associated with Alzheimer's. It makes a troubling subject approachable. A reassuring book for tweens who may be feeling very alone.
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LibraryThing member empress8411
With a deft hand, author Meg Medina brings us into Merci’s world. Starting her second year at a private school, Mercy struggles to navigate a world of privilege and expectations at odds with her personality. Normally, she would confide in her beloved grandfather, Lolo, about her struggles. But
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Lolo is not himself and no one tells her why.
The magic of this book is how Medina takes small events, an assignment at school, a new person in class, riding a bike, a holiday – and builds them into a narrative that wonderfully explores growing up.
Medina creates real people, complex, unique, flawed, and complete. Her handling of Lolo and his illness was superb, and in particular, Merci’s anger and reaction nearly made me cry. Merci, brave and stumbling and unsure, is a wonderful character. Watching her discover the truth about herself encouraged me.
I highly recommend this book for any young reader. But in particular, for children facing losing a grandparent to Alzheimer’s, this book would be particularly helpful.
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LibraryThing member nicholsm
I received a free advanced copy of this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

I would give this book my highest recommendation. I cannot say enough good things about how realistic and believable these characters were! It was refreshing to read a
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middle grade novel where the main character Merci and her interactions with family and friends seems so relatable to tween girls. Merci is trying hard to be “grown up,” but deep down she’s really still just a kid in the most authentic way possible.

This story follows Merci as she starts 6th grade as the girl on a scholarship to an expensive private school. She lives next door to her extended family and is very close with her grandparents. Aside from dealing with mean girl drama, Merci is also starting to realize that her grandfather Lolo is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. What follows is a poignant and humorous story about Merci coming to terms with changes in her family, changes with her friends and the changes that enviable happen as you grow up. What moved me the most to love Merci was her relationship with her family. Coming from a childhood living in a similar situation to Merci, with my grandparents living upstairs from me, I hurt for her as she realized her grandfather (who is her hero) was getting sick, just as I experienced my grandfather (who was my hero) decline in health after a stroke. I’ve already purchased this for the school library where I work and will be recommending it often.
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LibraryThing member jwyss
I received a free copy of Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina in exchange for an honest review.

This novel would appeal to middle school aged children. Set during the time when naïve children are given more freedoms and beginning learning about the complexities of the world. The main
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character is likeable, and you quickly care for her and her family.

Not necessarily a criticism, I found the use of Spanish words woven into the story a bit frustrating at times since I did not know the translation. As an adult and a smart phone at my side, I could easily translate. However, I image that children who speak Spanish must appreciate and make more personal connections to these details and infusion of their culture into the story.
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LibraryThing member thornton37814
Merci attends a private school by doing "community service." Her friend is jealous of her assignment since Merci is assigned to help the friend's "crush." At the same time, Merci's grandfather Lolo, to whom she is quite close, is declining rapidly due to Alzheimer's Disease, and Merci doesn't
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really understand what is going on due to the family's decision to keep her in the dark. It's a coming-of-age tale which may appeal to middle school readers at the moment but probably lacks an enduring quality. Additional editing would shorten and make the story stronger. The author includes some common Spanish words in the story which are not translated for the reader. I suspect many middle school readers, particularly in Southern and Southwestern States with many Mexican and Central American immigrants, will not need a Spanish dictionary nearby, but I anticipate it might create problems for those with little exposure to the Spanish language. The book probably works best for middle schoolers with family members suffering from dementia. I received an advance e-galley in exchange for an honest review through the publisher via NetGalley.
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LibraryThing member hrrivera44
The tale of many Hispanic familias and how they to struggle with everyday life. Mercedez "Merci" Suarez is an accurate representation of what is like to be in middle school, with an in your face family, and coming of age. The story will likely resonate with Hispanic girls in 6th grade but can be
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enjoyed by others if given a chance. If I had to equate it with an American concept, I would say its the Growing Pains. For Merci it is to have her favorite activity canceled because she needs to take more responsibilities, coming to terms with unavoidable changes that make life challenging, and learning to deal others, but most importantly deal with her own thoughts.

I found the familia believable and realistic. Although the mother seems kind of distant almost not felt in the book. In Hispanic families, they are almost always the most central piece that binds everyone together. Abuelas well they are the best. There's is nothing to be said. I would have liked to see more from this characters, but again I know there are some familias that are a little different. Overall an enjoyable read and one I would recommend for middle-grade years.
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LibraryThing member aliterarylion
I received this in exchange for an honest review

Merci Suarez was a refreshing middle grade book about growing up and pushing through your circumstances. The importance of family and friends reverberated through the entire book. It's always nice to see books set in your home state because the author
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clearly got the vibe of living in Florida down right. I don't know much about the Latinx community but the book allowed the reader a glimpse into the exciting and vibrant culture. Being a bored white person, I didn't understand any of the Spanish vocabulary and would have appreciated a small explanation for each phrase. It was a nice sweet book and I am glad to have read an early copy of Merci Suarez Changes Gears.
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LibraryThing member plnorris
I received an ARC of this book through LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

This middle grade book tells the story of Merci Suarez, an 11 year old Latino girl who attends a prestigious private school on scholarship. Merci faces many challenges at school. How will she fit in? She must juggle mean girls,
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boys, and her school work. Merci faces an even bigger challenge at home. Her grandfather (Lolo) has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. This realistic fiction book is very relatable to middle grade students who are facing challenges in their lives.
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LibraryThing member foggidawn
Merci can't help but notice the ways in which her life is different from those of her classmates. At her private school, she must do extra hours of community service in return for her scholarship. None of her classmates lives in a chain of little houses with their extended family. And, while her
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classmates may go on fancy vacations during school breaks, Merci's family hardly ever goes anywhere -- she's probably spending her vacations babysitting her little cousins, or helping with her father's painting business in order to save money for a new bike. And now that she is in sixth grade, everything seems to be changing, from the way her classmates interact (suddenly, some of the girls are acting like the boys they always played with at recess seem fascinating and somehow forbidden), to the way her beloved grandfather sometimes gets confused and irritable. Merci doesn't like any of the changes, but must learn that they are part of life, and that they can bring good things as well as bad.

I enjoyed this book, winner of the 2019 Newbery Medal, but I'm not sure I'd say it's the best book of the year. (Ah, the price of success! If it hadn't won, would I be saying that about some other book? Probably, but I digress.) There are several moments both touching and funny, and the characters are rounded and interesting. Merci's own character development is a pleasure to read. If you have an interest in children's literature, I'd recommend this book.
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LibraryThing member bogreader
Sixth grade student Merci Suárez is attending a prestigious school which is made possible through free tuition and family sacrifices. Merci is encouraged to be her best self in order to maintain her position at school, but disagreeable assignments, popularity disputes, and budding romances make
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this difficult. In addition, life at home is changing as she is responsible for babysitting her nephews, helping with her father's painting business, and her confidant grandfather is sometimes forgetful and angry. Merci struggles with these challenges and ultimately learns the strength that family can provide, even while it is changing.
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LibraryThing member mclane
Merci (Mercedes) Suarez is a scholarship student at an expensive private school in southern Florida, and has a lot on her plate. She lives with her parents, older brother and extended family in a compound of three little casitas. Her father runs a house painting business, where she sometimes helps
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out, her mother is a physical therapist, her big brother is working on his college applications, and her beloved grandfather has been forgetting things and acting oddly at times. On top of all this, Merci has just started sixth grade and is trying to figure out exactly where she fits in. Merci tells her own story, from the first day of school through the end of the school year, with humor, exasperation, anger, sorrow, and joy. This is a book that will be greatly enjoyed by many middle school readers, especially girls, who will identify with Merci and her challenges and triumphs. It is also wonderful to become familiar with a Hispanic American family who are presented in a way that emphasizes the fact that they are part of the mainstream of life in this country. Highly recommended!
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LibraryThing member Janismin
Author Meg Medina creates a believable story in Merci Suarez Changes Gears. Merci is eleven years old, struggles with the best-like girl at school, and doesn't come from a family with a lot of wealth. Her Cuban-American background brings a bit of culture into this coming of age story.

I'd call it
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realistic fiction; it's contemporary, believable, and has issues that middle school students will relate to. Life is not always easy for Merci but she learns to grow and accept the things she has no control over.
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LibraryThing member Salsabrarian
Narrated by Frankie Corzo. A sequel to the short story " Sol Painting, Inc." from the collection "Flying Lessons and Other Stories."
LibraryThing member ReadHanded
Very cute. Merci is a sixth grader on scholarship at a private school in Florida. Merci must learn to navigate the changes in her family - like her beloved grandfather's (Lolo) worsening Alzheimer's disease - while trying to keep track of the confusing changes that are part of growing up - why are
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the popular girls so mean to her when the tall, new student, Michael talks to her? What does "maybe like" mean?

Merci's mishaps are relatable and amusing as she struggles to feel like she belongs in both her family and with her peers.
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LibraryThing member quirkylibrarian
Newbery, Children's fiction, Strong female character, Florida, Multicultural, Hispanic
LibraryThing member rabid-reader
Eleven-year-old Cuban American Merci Suárez lives in the Palm Beach area of Florida with a large extended family -- parents, brother, grandparents (Abuela and Abuelo), and her aunt (Tia) with young twins. Merci and her older brother Roli are scholarship students at a private school, and Merci has
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to work community service as part of her tuition. She often feels like an outsider as her friends become interested in boys for the first time, more homework and grade pressures in middle school, and having to deal with a frenemy, rich girl Edna Santos. At the same time, Merci's grandfather Lolo, to whom she is quite close, is declining rapidly due to Alzheimer's Disease, and Merci doesn't really understand what is going on due to the family's decision to keep her in the dark.

This transitional coming-of-age novel feels real and true, with Merci's school friends, her teachers, and her close-knit family all interacting in many ways. Sometimes it felt as if too much was going on at once, which might reflect an accurate sixth-grade world view. The Latino setting was excellent, although some readers may need help with Spanish translations in parts. I loved the tender portrayal of a grandparent in decline, a difficult subject to deal with under any circumstances.
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LibraryThing member electrascaife
Merci is starting 6th grade and her second year at Seaward Pines Academy, so she's still trying to get used to being a scholarship kid in the midst of the rich students. She also struggles with being assigned as a helper to the new student, dealing with the most popular girl in her grade, who is
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also a big bully, and working through her feelings about her grandfather's steadily-worsening Alzheimer's Disease.
Despite being another entry in the Not-Rich Kid Outsider Dealing with Rich Kid Bullies category, there's some good stuff in here: the bully business is wrapped up in a surprisingly complex and sensitive way, and the issues with her grandfather and his illness are dealt with in a similarly sensitive and thoughtful manner. It wouldn't have been my pick for the Newbery Medal, but it's still a good read.
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LibraryThing member acs32
I loved this book! Merci and her family are fully realized characters, and her struggles with changes in her family and her school situation will be relatable to middle-grade readers.
LibraryThing member Regan521
In Merci Suarez Changes Gears, Merci is a young girl that deals with a lot of problems common to middle schoolers (family, grades, fitting-in). This story is great for readers to have a better understanding of her family’s Hispanic culture. This book would be great for an ELA classroom, and even
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for ELL’s. For instruction, students could use context clues to determine the meaning of Spanish words used throughout the book, and students could write in a journal some of the ways they may relate to Merci.
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LibraryThing member MaowangVater
Merci Suárez (Who first appeared in the story, "Sol Painting Inc." in Flying Lessons & Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh) has entered sixth grade at Seaward Pines Academy in Florida. It’s a prestigious private school, and Merci and her older brother, Roli, a science nerd and notoriously bad
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driver, are there on scholarships. As the granddaughter of Cuban American immigrants Merci is keenly aware of the economic class differences between her and her classmates. So, when her rich classmate Edna, daughter of a doctor who owns his own boat, starts to tease her because Merci has been assigned to be the “Sunshine Buddy” to the new boy at school, it really gets on Merci’s nerves. She didn’t want to be anybody’s Sunshine Buddy, any more than she wanted to have to change rooms to go to class. What she’d like is to play soccer after school, instead of babysitting her mischief making twin nephews, but that’s not happening, and worst her best confidant, Lolo, her grandfather, has started to act very strange lately. This school year has started off badly and a few accidents are about to make it worse. Sixth grade is a real pain!
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LibraryThing member ewyatt
A sweet realistic fiction about a 6th grader finding her stride in middle school, dealing with a mean girl, and embracing her obligations to family (who are trying to protect her from her grandpa’s illness). She's independent, doesn't always get her way, and takes her lumps when things go wrong
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(a costume destroyed, a car accident, the eyebrow incident) Insights into Cuban culture in America and Spanish phrases are sprinkled throughout.
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LibraryThing member HeidiSki
Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat,
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and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren't going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately — forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. No one in her family will tell Merci what's going on, so she’s left to her own worries, while also feeling all on her own at school. In a coming-of-age tale full of humor and wisdom, award-winning author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school — and the steadfast connection that defines family. (Amazon)
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LibraryThing member fingerpost
Merci Suárez lives with her parents and brother in one house, next door to her grandparents in another house and her aunt and hyperactive twin cousins on the other side. It's a close-knit family and they do many things together. She is on a work scholarship at an exclusive private school. Making
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friends at the school is difficult, and made more difficult by her repulsive and popular classmate Edna. At home, problems are arising as well, as her beloved Lolo (grandfather) is developing Alzheimer's disease.

This is a little longer than most middle grade novels, and covers a lot of materiel. Either the school story or the grandfather story alone would have made a good book. But Medina combines the two story lines masterfully, and it is a beautiful coming of age story with the moral: changes are going to happen. Some will be changes you look forward to, and some will be changes you dread and don't want to happen at all, but change is inevitable.
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LibraryThing member SandraBrower
Sixth grade is a hard time for any girl, it is even tougher when you aren't like the other kids in your school. Merci and her brother are scholarship kids, they work hard to attend and give back by working for the tuition. Merci's beloved grandfather, LOLA has Alzheimer's but Merci doesn't know
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what that is and is confused by his forgetfulness. As Merci navigates through her school life her real life follows a similar course. I read this book (which I understand is a NEWBERRY Prize winner) and I was thrown back to the toughness of being in my last year of grade school. The drama of jealousy, the confusion of changing bodies, the hardship of watching family get older all came back. What I loved about Merci is how adaptable, lovable and strong she is. Meg Medina grasps the world of a 12 year old and brings all the emotions to the surface with wit and real life feel. I enjoyed this book so much I recommended it to my nieces and to patrons of the library I know have kids close to Merci's age.
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