Jennifer Chan is Missing by Tae Keller (Middle School)

12-year old Mallory Moss is a worrier. She knows that people are really “just a collection of what other people think about us.” So although she thinks her own opinion matters, she is sure that what others think matters even more. And this becomes a problem when she meets Jennifer — the intriguing new girl who enthusiastically and loudly believes in aliens and is never going to fit in with the kids at school.

This is a coming of age story both about an outsider (based on beliefs, not color or ethnicity) and a girl who is intent on always fitting in, even in the face of unfairness, meanness, and outright bullying of others. Excellent writing, good messaging with a variety of sources: parents, religion(s), and introspection.

Some good quotes:
“At services tonight, the rabbi talked about forgiveness, how it’s not only between you and God. He said God exists in the relationships between people, so forgiveness is between you and the person you hurt.”

“Why are people so afraid to believe? Well, Jennifer, maybe because it’s impossibly embarrassing to be proven wrong.”

“It’s so easy to talk bad about someone. It’s so easy to bond over hating someone else. It’s almost scary how naturally it comes.”

“Maybe. But sometimes I think complicated is the word people use when they don’t want to think too hard.”

“Confession isn’t about telling our secrets to God. God already knows. It’s about revealing our true hearts to ourselves, because we can’t know who we are when we’re hiding from who we’ve been.”

“I had to make her understand that this mattered — what people thought had everything to do with who she was. Because how do we know who we are without knowing our place in the world?”

Thank you to Random House Children’s and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on May 26th, 2022.

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