“Nothing will change if you stop trying.”
Rating: 4/5 stars
Thank you Algonquin Young Readers for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour and sending me an e-ARC in exchange for a honest review!
Introducing Brie Hutchens: soap opera super fan, aspiring actor, and so-so student at her small Catholic school. Brie has big plans for eighth grade. She’s going to be the star of the school play and convince her parents to let her go to the performing arts high school. But when Brie’s mom walks in on her accidentally looking at some possibly inappropriate photos of her favorite actress, Brie panics and blurts out that she’s been chosen to crown the Mary statue during her school’s May Crowning ceremony. Brie’s mom is distracted with pride—but Brie’s in big trouble: she has not been chosen. No one has. Worse, Brie has almost no chance to get the job, which always goes to a top student.
Desperate to make her lie become truth, Brie turns to Kennedy, the girl everyone expects to crown Mary. But sometimes just looking at Kennedy gives Brie butterflies. Juggling her confusing feelings with the rapidly approaching May Crowning, not to mention her hilarious non-star turn in the school play, Brie navigates truth and lies, expectations and identity, and how to—finally—make her mother really see her as she is.
I absolutely love that a middle grade book like this exists. It’s not too often that I dive into reading within the MG age group but I’m so glad I gave this one a chance because I think it’s a really important read. In the Role of Brie Hutchens is a story about an eighth grade girl who has big plans for her last year before high school that includes being the star of the school play and getting into her dream high school for performing arts to help her become an actress one day. Sounds ambitious enough, right? Except when Brie’s mom accidentally walks in on Brie looking at naked pictures of her favorite actress, Brie blurts out the first possible thing the comes to her mind. “I’m going to crown Mary!” – which is quite possibly the worst thing she could have said. Brie’s lies quickly turn into a snowball effect as she desperately tries to win the Crown Mary essay competition, convince her parents to let her audition for the new school she wants to attend, and navigate her sexuality as she starts to have feelings for a girl in her grade.
The writing in this was so well done that I unintentionally ended up reading the entire book in one sitting. The author does a great job of keeping readers engaged whether they be in eighth grade or like me…much older (let’s leave it at that). Brie, was fleshed out extremely well and while she did have flaws they really weren’t more than just being an eighth grader who is trying to figure out who they are. I think that we can all relate to that in some way shape or form since we’ve all walked down that road. Obviously, for Brie it’s harder when trying to understand your sexuality and feeling like your parents aren’t supportive or as easy to talk to as you would have liked. The side characters were all just as enjoyable to read and I loved to see how supportive a few of her teachers were as well since they can become such an important person in a teenagers life.
Additionally, while it was hard to read about Brie’s mom initially having a hard time coming to terms with her daughter’s sexuality and how to talk about it with her I still think it was a vital part piece of the story. Not every teen has the luxury of accepting parents from the get go and I think it will further help teens in similar situation feel less alone and isolated if going through the same thing. While this does end on a happy and more positive note for Brie I enjoyed how it showed that sometimes things aren’t always perfect and often times very hard but it can and will get better. All in all, like I said earlier it makes me so happy to know that books like this exist for middle age readers. I think it’s so important for readers to be able to see themselves represented in books whether it be race, sexuality, religion, etc. If you’re looking for a heart-warming, quick paced, inspiring read I would definitely recommend picking up this own-voices queer novel!
Until next time,