Making the Grade / The Meaning of Maggie

Hi!

Making the GradeI’ve checked out plenty of middle grade novels for the summer, mainly because of the increase in eye-catching covers! The Meaning of Maggie has one of my favorite covers of the year, so I was quite excited to read it earlier this month. While I don’t think I can call the story a personal favorite, I still believe it’s worth checking out if you’re a fan of elementary and middle school fiction. See my thoughts below! :)

Making the Grade The Meaning of MaggieSummary: Eleven years old. The beginning of everything! For Maggie Mayfield, turning eleven means she’s one year closer to college. One year closer to voting. And one year closer to getting a tattoo. It’s time for her to pull herself up by her bootstraps (the family motto) and think about more than after school snacks and why her older sisters are too hot for their own good. Because something mysterious is going on with her cool dude Dad, whose legs have permanently fallen asleep, and Maggie is going to find out exactly what the problem is and fix it. After all, nothing’s impossible when you’re future president of the United States of America, fifth grade science fair champion, and a shareholder in Coca-Cola, right? {Goodreads}

Main Character Development {A-}: Maggie Mayfield is adorable, and I truly liked her hilarious personality! This is the author’s debut, so while I did notice some gaps in Maggie’s character development, I am sure it is a skill that will only improve with practice in future books. Maggie’s know it all attitude may not sit well with all readers, but I didn’t mind it all that much; if anything, I just wish that instead of her “telling” us a lot of the events in the story, I wish that there was more “showing.”

Supporting Character Development {B+}: There is a large number of secondary characters in this book – some succeed in moving the plot along, while others fall flat. I loved the presence of Maggie’s parents in the novel because, as I’ve mentioned in other reviews, parents more often than not have a smaller role in MG and YA. Her dad, especially, made me laugh quite a bit! :) However, on the flip side, there were a few characters that deserved more attention, such as Maggie’s first crush {who fell off the face of the earth?!} and the enemy-turned-friend {the name of this friend is escaping my memory, at the moment}.

Engaging and Well-Paced Plot {B+}: The biggest obstacle in LOVING this book for me is the lack of any “true” story. There is the overall theme of Maggie’s dad dealing with MS {incredibly done, by the way}, but beyond that, I was always hoping for more while reading. That’s not to say I don’t like books that merely follow one’s life, but in this case, I was set up for a lot more happening than what the plot actually delivers.

Interesting and Consistent Voice {A}: One of the more noteworthy categories is the narration! While there is more “telling” than “showing,” I have to give kudos to the author for making Maggie so darn lovable. My favorite feature of the book is all of Maggie’s footnotes; I love that it gave the character room for more random commentary that would otherwise distract from the flow of the story.

Vivid Writing and Language {A-}: Little to note here, but I wasn’t all that impressed with the writing itself. Since I don’t know where else to put this, I also want to point out that I was fifty pages in until I realized that this was historical fiction! The story would benefit from a bit more clarity regarding the time period early on, because if I didn’t get it, I have to wonder if the intended audience will.

Memorability/Lasting Impact {A-}: Overall, The Meaning of Maggie left me a bit conflicted! I wish I loved it more than how I ended up feeling about it, but there were many positive aspects of the novel that I think should be pointed out. Coming up with a final grade was tough, but I finally went with…

Final Grade: B+

Have a wonderful rest of your day!
Bella

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