13 Gifts: A Book Review


13 Gifts

13 Gifts by Wendy Mass

Summary: After stealing the principal’s goat with a can of pepper spray, Tara is suspended for the last two weeks of school, and is sent to stay with her cousin in the sleepy town of Willow Falls. While her parents are in Madagascar studying lemurs, Tara travels to her relatives via train, where her iPod and $200 are stolen. Tara doesn’t want to upset her {slightly} overprotective parents, so she comes up with a plan. Her uncle, the inventor of the No Sand Beach Towel, has dozens of comics in mint-condition. What if she stole a duplicate and sold it to the owner of the antiques store downtown? Bad idea. When the Angelina, the owner, refuses to buy the copy, Tara is given the task of retrieving 13 odd items and bringing them back to the store, all before she turns 13. However strange the job is {Where is she supposed to find a cane with a duck-shaped head?}, Tara agrees, desperate for the money. With the help of Emily, her cousin, Roy, the Australian “housekeeper,”Amanda and Leo, best friends who communicate through chalkboards, Rory, who may be the love of a teen star, and  David, who enjoys singing in the bottom of empty pools, will Tara manage to find all 13 items before her 13th birthday?

My Thoughts: This has been on my “To-Read” list for a while, but I haven’t gotten to sit down and actually read it until now. Having read 11 Birthdays and Finally, {No, the title is NOT 12, Finally. Believe me. It is one of my pet peeves.} I was able to follow the several inside jokes throughout the story, but it could also be read alone. It wasn’t my favorite out of the three, but it was a solid continuation to the series. I feel that each story gets weirder and weirder, but if that is bad or good, I don’t know. I loved that Wendy Mass had Tara become friends with Amanda, Leo, and Rory. All of which made me laugh. A lot. David, of course, was a sweetie, and I felt that with the relationship between him and Tara and his bar mitzvah, he really grew as a character. Rory will always be my favorite :) In some cases, I can relate with her, which makes me like her even more! Amanda and Leo work well together, but I don’t remember them talking through chalkboards in the last books. Did I miss that detail? Tara had me hooked the minute she mentioned her scheme to steal a goat! How often do you hear that? I dislike Angelina, mostly because of her wacky ideas. Oh, and Roy. Loved the fact that he had an accent! I also thought there were some holes in her character development. The story had plenty of threads, or different story lines throughout, but Wendy Mass did a terrific job connecting them all in the end, without confusing the reader. And that ending! The author just set herself up for a 10… novel starring Grace! Yay :)

Pros: Strong characters, and a plot that makes the reader think.

Cons: The plot’s many story lines may be frustrating to slower readers.

Heads Up: Romance, but all middle school friendly.

Overall: I give it 4 stars {****} for a fairly good continuation of the Willow Falls stories. I recommend it for ages 10 and up.

Please, please, please take a look at Wendy Mass’ 11 Birthdays and Finally! If you read them, 13 Gifts will be much more enjoyable. To tell you the truth, after reading 13 Gifts, I want to revisit Amanda’s, Leo’s and Rory’s adventures again! Click here to learn more.


Ooh, don’t you just hate Sebastian? I hope Blaine will be okay, and I loved the cello solos during the song between Sebastian and Santana! Looks like Sue will be having a child, and McKinley is looking for a Spanish teacher next week. Should be interesting…

Bella :)


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