Middle Grade Review: Bounce! by Megan Shull
Author: Megan Shull
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books, 2016. 373 pages.
Seventh grader Frannie Hudson wonders what it would be like to trade in her family for a new one. Her big brother ignores her. Her mean older sister can’t stand her. And her parents have just announced they’re going on a last-minute vacation—without her.
When Frannie makes one desperate, crazy wish—BOOM!—she magically bounces into a whole new life, with a totally different family. And. It. Is. Amazing! There’s only one catch: waking up as someone else keeps happening. Plunged into lives and adventures she’s only imagined—from being a pop star to meeting one super-cute boy—Frannie finds courage in the unforgettable friends and families she meets along the way. But as her new life spins out of control, Frannie begins to worry if she’ll ever get back home.
A celebration of the power of love and connection, Megan Shull’s extraordinary new novel captures one girl’s journey to find her voice, heal her heart, and discover the joy of bouncing back.
I have mixed feelings about this one. The heart is definitely in the right place, but the message felt a bit blatant. On the other hand, the story was still pretty fun. On yet another hand (how many hands do I have? Good heavens, I've turned into an octopus!), the too-faithful reproduction of how kids speak got old in a hurry. Maybe that last one's only an issue for old folks like me.
I suspect kids won't be as hard on the book as I was about the over-the-top awful family that Frannie has to deal with when she's herself. I found it a bit facile, not to say unlikely, but it does serve the purpose of setting Frannie up for the level of heartfelt wishing that causes her to start "bouncing." We do need to understand that doesn't happen to just anyone (which begs the question of what's happening to the girls she becomes for the day, and why they would be wishing to be anyone else, since most of them have pretty great lives).
I also thought the loving families went a bit over the top, or at least the first one does. Just way too sweet and perfect to be believed for a second, and I would hate for kids to think that's what a really happy family would look like.
Here's the thing, though: I blasted through the book and really liked it in spite of all that. Maybe it was just the interest of seeing who Frannie would be next. Or wondering if there was going to be a wholly unbelievable ending (I'm happy to report there is not). For whatever reason, I liked the book more than my head tells me I should have, and I'll bet kids will like it more.
For kids from about 8-11, I think. Less appealing to the adults, but still readable, and the message about love and being yourself isn't a bad one for any of us, of any age.
FTC Disclosure: I checked Bounce out of my library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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