Author: Rachel Vail
Age group: 10 and up
Page count: 320 pages
Summary from Amazon:
Gracie has never felt like this before. One day, she suddenly can’t breathe, can’t walk, can’t anything—and the reason is standing right there in front of her, all tall and weirdly good-looking: A.J.
But it turns out A.J. likes not Gracie but Gracie’s beautiful best friend, Sienna. Obviously Gracie is happy for Sienna. Super happy! She helps Sienna compose the best texts, responding to A.J.’s surprisingly funny and appealing texts, just as if she were Sienna. Because Gracie is fine. Always! She’s had lots of practice being the sidekick, second-best.
It’s all good. Well, almost all. She’s trying.
Funny and tender, Well, That Was Awkward goes deep into the heart of middle school, and finds that even with all the heartbreak, there can be explosions of hope and moments of perfect happiness.
Gracie is one of the most relatable characters I've read about in a while. I liked how Gracie was portrayed as a carefree teenager. She is a normal person who faces problems that everyone faces! While many books have relatable conflicts, I feel that Gracie actually solved them in credible ways. Gracie really didn't know how to solve the conflicts, so she kind of blundered through and hoped for the best option. I feel that many others will be able to relate to this. There were moments when you were flinching for her and then cheering. She has lots of flaws. She misbehaved sometimes, but it was a good balance between the funny and okay-with-the-world teenager and the mad teenager. There were definitely lots of self-recognition topics when Gracie realized truths about herself. Gracie tries to remind herself how blessed she is, but she feels a little excluded.
The voice reflects an American teenager so well. The texts with slang, abbreviations and emojis sound natural. They gossip and they text. Conversations between the characters include complaining about schoolwork and trying to break the ice in an uncomfortable situation. I loved listening to Gracie's way of thinking because I know lots of readers will relate to her. She feels overwhelmed, but also doesn't believe she has a right to feel a little lost. She beats herself up over doing bad things, but also learns from them. I like how the conversations between the characters often end in laughing and making jokes.
The romance is a huge part in Well, That Was Awkward. Lots of embarrassing moments in the characters' lives happen in front of people they like. The characters worried about saying the right thing to not seeming desperate while they were texting. I think the texting factor was very believable because lots of teenagers use phones to contact their friends. I thought it was cute that the girls were analyzing every response A.J. sent. It seemed a little far-fetched at times, but those moments lead to funny jokes that made me smile.
A lot of MG protagonists that deal with the romance factor often have other conflicts such as changing bodies, friendship and crush problems and realizing that the world they thought they lived in isn't perfect. At the end of the book, they accept it and move on. I don't find many books that involve the aftereffects of accepting this before delving into the YA world. Gracie acknowledges these things are going to be part of her life and she does her best to deal with them. She realizes that event though the shock is over, the struggles that arise from it are going to continue.
I felt a little confused because I didn't feel the main idea was wrapped up very well. I don't get how at one point all the characters are made at her, then all of a sudden they forgive her. And then it was laid out neatly for the rest of the book. It didn't click with me, and I was left bewildered. I think one part was cleared up neatly, but then there was other parts that just didn't seem relevant to the story. They were okay to read, but I was scratching my head a little.
Well, That Was Awkward is a wonderful middle grade story that clearly reflects the life of an American teenager. With a relatable protagonist, awkward situations and cute romance, I think it is a must-read for middle graders!
Her novels for teens and tweens include UNFRIENDED, IF WE KISS, KISS ME AGAIN, LUCKY, GORGEOUS, BRILLIANT, and the Friendship Ring series. For elementary school kids, there’s JUSTIN CASE: School, Drool, and Other Daily Disasters; JUSTIN CASE: Shells, Smells, and the Horrible Flip-Flops of Doom, and, JUSTIN CASE: Rules, Tools, and Maybe a Bully. Her picture books include PIGGY BUNNY and SOMETIMES I’M BOMBALOO. Rachel lives in New York City with her husband, their two sons, and a tortoise named Lightning.
If you'd like to go to her website, click the link below!
Have a wonderful week!