Where You’ve Got To Be by Caroline Gertler

Disclaimer: I received this e-audiobook from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Where You’ve Got To Be

Author: Caroline Gertler

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Jewish MC and side characters, Anxiety disorder MC

Recommended For…: middle grade readers, contemporary, Jewish rep

Publication Date: September 13, 2022

Genre: MG Contemporary

Age Relevance: 8+ (sibling fights, bullying, anxiety and anxiety attack, eating and dieting, microaggressions, antisemitism, assimilation, vomiting)

Explanation of Above: There are a couple of fights between the siblings in this book. There is some bullying, microaggressive comments, and antisemitism is discussed. The MC has anxiety and it is shown throughout the book, along with an anxiety attack. There is eating shown and dieting mentioned in this book. There is some discussion about assimilation. There is some vomiting shown in the book.

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Pages: 288

Synopsis: Nolie’s sister, Linden, may be only fourteen months older than she is, but suddenly that feels longer than it ever has before. Linden is growing up. She cuts short their Cousins Week at Grandma’s beach cottage to focus on excelling in her ballet auditions, and she throws away the seashell necklace Grandma gave each of them–though Nolie secretly saves it. Even Nolie’s best friend, Jessa, is suddenly trying to act older and cooler, and she wants Nolie to be someone different, too.

With everything and everyone changing around her, Nolie starts to feel adrift. Should she be changing, too? Who does she want to be? One impulsive decision leads to another and another . . . until Nolie has a secret collection of things that don’t belong to her. Now, Nolie must face the fact that she may have ended up on the wrong path so she can start to find her way back.

Review: This was such a cute book! I loved the story and I loved how well it well for middle graders, who are in that awful in-between stage of being a kid and being a teen, with friends on either side that are influencing their decisions. The book did well talking about peer pressure and alluding to why children may act out. In my studies of childhood crime and in seeing it in my former workplace,  it’s very apparent that the vast majority of children use petty crime as a way of trying to get attention or to call attention to a big problem that they’re having. It was nice that the book handled that situation well and it took care to get the details right. The book did well with the character development and world building as well.

The only issue I had with the book is that I felt like it was a bit too slow paced in spots and that it stalled out on some parts that weren’t as important as others.

Verdict: It was great! Highly recommend!