Novel: Eight Keys
Author: Suzanne LaFleur
Target Audience: 9-12 year olds
Genre: Realistic Contemporary
Publication Year: 2011
Setting: Small town; farm; contemporary
A Favorite Quote: “A good friend is one of the hardest things to keep in this life. Don’t forget that sometimes you have to work at it.”
My One Sentence Summary: When Elise is bullied at her new middle school, she responds by lashing out at best friend Franklin, but after her twelfth birthday, Elise begins to understand herself better through the love and support of family… and the mysterious keys she finds (gifts from her deceased father).
What I loved about this book: I appreciated the depth of the characters in this story. Even the bully, Amanda, had her own storyline. Franklin was so loyal to Elise and still completely believable. But, probably more than anything, I liked the deep love Elise’s family had for one another: her aunt and uncle, her mom and dad (who were dead, but whose presence continued to be felt), and her dad’s best friend. I found the messages left for Elise by her father especially touching, and his advice helps Elise on her journey of self-discovery.
Major themes: self-discovery/coming of age; changing friendships; bullying and adjusting to middle school; familial love and support
Who should read this book: This book will appeal to preteens, particularly girls. Anyone who enjoys realistic fiction and is looking for an uplifting story.