You Go First
You Go First

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Annotation: Charlotte, twelve, and Ben, eleven, are highly-skilled competitors at online Scrabble and that connection helps both as they face family issues and the turmoil of middle school.
Catalog Number: #182490
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 288 pages
Availability: Special Order Only - Contact Customer Service at +1 800 637-6581 or +1 217 243-5451
ISBN: Publisher: 0-06-241418-6 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-4536-8
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-06-241418-2 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-4536-9
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017047338
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
It's a bold step when 11-year-old Ben, reeling from the news that his parents plan to divorce, asks 12-year-old Charlotte if they can talk on the phone sometimes. Friendly rivals in an online Scrabble game for several months, they've never met and don't realize what they have in common: each is intellectually gifted, lonely, and suddenly coping with troubles (Ben's parents' divorce and his ill-fated run for student council; Charlotte's father's heart attack, as well as rejection by her best friend). The story's momentum never falters as, chapter by chapter, the disarming third-person text shuttles between Charlotte's story, set in Pennsylvania, and Ben's in Louisiana. Those phone conversations? Though realistically awkward and anything but candid, they still provide a lifeline for two vulnerable kids feeling suddenly adrift and alone. Each story develops independently over six days, but the link between the two main characters becomes a subtle bond that enables each one to make it through an emotionally challenging week and come out stronger. Readers drawn by the intriguing jacket art will enjoy the novel's perceptive dual narrative.
Horn Book
Two brainy middle-school outcasts--twelve-year-old Charlotte and eleven-year-old Ben--find companionship through a longstanding, long-distance online Scrabble rivalry while dealing with upheaval in their lives. Neither one confides in the other, but slowly they begin to communicate outside the game. With character-revealing prose, Kelly holds readers' attention as the narration moves back and forth between the fully realized protagonists and their intricately drawn home and school settings.
Kirkus Reviews
Preteens Charlotte Lockard and Ben Boxer enjoy an ongoing online Scrabble feud, each vying for word-game domination, while they both silently struggle with middle school social catastrophes and crumbling family infrastructures. Suddenly, their intermittent Scrabble banter becomes an unexpected lifeline. Pennsylvanian Charlotte's rock collections, incessant anagramming, and deep-delving thought spirals charm readers instantly; Louisianan Ben's sputtering, encyclopedic knowledge of presidential history, Ravenclaw blanket, relentless recycling statistics, and stick-to-it optimism couldn't be sweeter. Guileless and earnest, these two kids seem poised for inevitable heartbreak. Charlotte can't face her lifelong best friend, who suddenly thinks she's a "parasite," or her father, who's recovering in the ICU after a heart attack. Ben can't understand his parents' marriage's "devolution" into a divorce or the ridicule his student council campaign incites. Catastrophe looms and builds through the book, the reckoning of a single week that culminates with a crucial convergence of the Scrabble friends' virtual world with their real one. Charlotte's and Ben's alternating first-person accounts of their humiliations and struggles induce a constricting tightness in readers' chests. Their unspoken feelings and worries (which appear in quavering italics) weigh heavily. Readers will undoubtedly see themselves in these pages. Charlotte and Ben are both depicted with pale skin and dark hair on the cover; their respective ethnicities go unmentioned, and their supporting cast is a diverse one.A well-crafted, entertaining call for middle schoolers to find their voices and remain accountable in shaping their own social spheres. (Fiction. 8-12)
Publishers Weekly
In Newbery Medalist Kelly-s (Hello, Universe) new novel, a long-distance online friendship provides a lifeline for two brainy, lonely kids facing turbulent events. Tautly plotted, the narrative alternates points of view between 12-year-old Charlotte in the Philadelphia suburbs and 11-year-old Ben in Louisiana, who share a love of words and play a running game of online Scrabble. During one tumultuous week each faces grave challenges: Charlotte can-t face her father-s heart attack and struggles as her former best friend shifts into a more popular clique, and loner Ben denies the impact of his parents- divorce and plunges himself into an out-of-character student council election. Kelly balances the humiliations of middle school-the desperation over where to sit at lunch, bullying, and social jockeying-with real kindness; each protagonist believably becomes more honest and forms new connections. Ultimately, Kelly crafts an incisive portrait of friendship and resilience. Ages 8-12. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (Apr.)
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 46 An online Scrabble game is more than a pastime, it's a lifeline for middle schoolers Charlotte and Ben: both children are coping with heartache. Charlotte's father is in the hospital, and her best friend is drifting toward a new social circle where Charlotte isn't welcome. Struggling to fit in at a new school, Ben's parents announce their divorce. The children's game postings evolve into a friendship by phonethey live in different statesthat reassures them they aren't alone. Kelly ( Hello, Universe ) knows her audience well and uses Ben and Charlotte's alternating points of view to capture moments of tween anguish with searing honesty. Foreshadowing facts lead each of Charlotte's chapters and information about sea stars is perfectly incorporated in a powerful scene about bullying. Kelly takes the concerns of young readers' seriously while reassuring them that, with time and resilience, they will eventually be okay. Ben and Charlotte's gradual understanding of the changing forces that affect their lives is reinforced through gentle pacing and careful plotting: a Robert Frost quote is strategically placed so that when revealed in its entirety, both the protagonistsand readersare ready to understand it. VERDICT Heartfelt and hopeful, this novel will encourage young readers to offer their hand in friendship to kids who, just like them, might be struggling. Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Preteens Charlotte Lockard and Ben Boxer enjoy an ongoing online Scrabble feud, each vying for word-game domination, while they both silently struggle with middle school social catastrophes and crumbling family infrastructures. Suddenly, their intermittent Scrabble banter becomes an unexpected lifeline. Pennsylvanian Charlotte's rock collections, incessant anagramming, and deep-delving thought spirals charm readers instantly; Louisianan Ben's sputtering, encyclopedic knowledge of presidential history, Ravenclaw blanket, relentless recycling statistics, and stick-to-it optimism couldn't be sweeter. Guileless and earnest, these two kids seem poised for inevitable heartbreak. Charlotte can't face her lifelong best friend, who suddenly thinks she's a "parasite," or her father, who's recovering in the ICU after a heart attack. Ben can't understand his parents' marriage's "devolution" into a divorce or the ridicule his student council campaign incites. Catastrophe looms and builds through the book, the reckoning of a single week that culminates with a crucial convergence of the Scrabble friends' virtual world with their real one. Charlotte's and Ben's alternating first-person accounts of their humiliations and struggles induce a constricting tightness in readers' chests. Their unspoken feelings and worries (which appear in quavering italics) weigh heavily. Readers will undoubtedly see themselves in these pages. Charlotte and Ben are both depicted with pale skin and dark hair on the cover; their respective ethnicities go unmentioned, and their supporting cast is a diverse one.A well-crafted, entertaining call for middle schoolers to find their voices and remain accountable in shaping their own social spheres. (Fiction. 8-12)
Word Count: 36,191
Reading Level: 4.7
Interest Level: 3-6
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.7 / points: 5.0 / quiz: 194160 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.7 / points:9.0 / quiz:Q73183
Lexile: 640L
Guided Reading Level: Y

Funny and poignant, Newbery Medalist and New York Times bestseller Erin Entrada Kelly’s national bestseller You Go First is an exploration of family, bullying, word games, art, and the ever-complicated world of middle school friendships.

In a starred review, School Library Journal wrote that Erin Entrada Kelly can “capture moments of tween anguish with searing honesty.”  

Twelve-year-old Charlotte Lockard and eleven-year-old Ben Boxer are separated by more than a thousand miles. On the surface, their lives seem vastly different—Charlotte lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while Ben is in the small town of Lanester, Louisiana.

Charlotte wants to be a geologist and keeps a rock collection in her room. Ben is obsessed with Harry Potter, presidential history, and recycling. But the two have more in common than they think. They’re both highly gifted. They’re both experiencing family turmoil. And they both sit alone at lunch.

During the course of one week, Charlotte and Ben—friends connected only by an online Scrabble game—will intersect in unexpected ways as they struggle to navigate the turmoil of middle school. The New York Times-bestselling novel You Go First reminds us that no matter how hard it is to keep our heads above troubled water, we never struggle alone.

Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly writes with an authentic, humorous, and irresistible voice. This engaging and character-driven story about growing up and finding your place in the world is for fans of Rebecca Stead and Rita Williams-Garcia.


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