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You Go First

You Go First

Автором Erin Entrada Kelly

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You Go First

Автором Erin Entrada Kelly

4.5/5 (12 оценки)
233 pages
2 hours
Apr 10, 2018


Funny and poignant, Newbery Medalist and New York Times bestseller Erin Entrada Kelly’s national bestseller You Go First is an exploration of family, bullying, word games, art, and the ever-complicated world of middle school friendships.

In a starred review, School Library Journal wrote that Erin Entrada Kelly can “capture moments of tween anguish with searing honesty.”  

Twelve-year-old Charlotte Lockard and eleven-year-old Ben Boxer are separated by more than a thousand miles. On the surface, their lives seem vastly different—Charlotte lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while Ben is in the small town of Lanester, Louisiana.

Charlotte wants to be a geologist and keeps a rock collection in her room. Ben is obsessed with Harry Potter, presidential history, and recycling. But the two have more in common than they think. They’re both highly gifted. They’re both experiencing family turmoil. And they both sit alone at lunch.

During the course of one week, Charlotte and Ben—friends connected only by an online Scrabble game—will intersect in unexpected ways as they struggle to navigate the turmoil of middle school. The New York Times-bestselling novel You Go First reminds us that no matter how hard it is to keep our heads above troubled water, we never struggle alone.

Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly writes with an authentic, humorous, and irresistible voice. This engaging and character-driven story about growing up and finding your place in the world is for fans of Rebecca Stead and Rita Williams-Garcia.

Apr 10, 2018

Об авторе

New York Times–bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly was awarded the Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe and a Newbery Honor for We Dream of Space. She grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and now lives in Delaware. She is a professor of children’s literature in the graduate fiction and publishing programs at Rosemont College, where she earned her MFA, and is on the faculty at Hamline University. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Philippines Free Press Literary Award for Short Fiction and the Pushcart Prize. Erin Entrada Kelly’s debut novel, Blackbird Fly, was a Kirkus Best Book, a School Library Journal Best Book, an ALSC Notable Book, and an Asian/Pacific American Literature Honor Book. She is also the author of The Land of Forgotten Girls, winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature; You Go First, a Spring 2018 Indie Next Pick; Lalani of the Distant Sea, an Indie Next Pick; and Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey, which she also illustrated. The author’s mother was the first in her family to immigrate to the United States from the Philippines, and she now lives in Cebu.

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  • After that, they played all the time, just the two of them. The box stayed on the dining room table so it’d be ready when they were.But last year, the game went back in the closet.

  • Acinetobacter baumannii, a bacteria that teemed on bed rails, supply carts, and floors.

  • If you don’t see anything beautiful, change your viewpoint.

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You Go First - Erin Entrada Kelly



equilibrium n : a state of balance

Girl with a Soda

Rabbit Hole: Rabbits sometimes dig holes for protection. Once the hole is there, they can crawl inside and hide. Other rabbit holes may lead to vast underground mazes known as warrens, which is where the rabbits live. Warren also describes a densely populated building.

Twelve-year-old Charlotte Lockard balanced an unopened Dr Pepper upright on her hand and thought: This is what it feels like to hold my dad’s heart.

She’d read online that the heart weighed about twelve ounces.

Same as the Dr Pepper.

She was firmly rooted in the glow of a Crozer Hospital vending machine until a woman with tired eyes and gray hair said, Excuse me? Charlotte mumbled a half apology and hurried back to the waiting room, where her mother sniffled into tissues and blamed it on allergies.

Normally her mother wouldn’t let her drink Dr Pepper, but these weren’t normal times.

Two hours earlier, Charlotte had been in life sciences. A knock landed on Ms. Schneider’s door as Charlotte chewed the end of her pencil and stared at the discussion topic on her paper.

There are about 1,500 species of starfish. They live primarily in the intertidal zone, which is also known as the littoral zone or foreshore. Organisms along the intertidal zone are uniquely adept at surviving in harsh environments. Describe some characteristics of the intertidal zone versus the peritidal zone.

Charlotte had just finished writing The intertidal zone is the area between the tides—i.e., it exists above water at low tide and below water at high tide—which differs from the peritidal zone, a wider area that extends from above the highest tide level to below the lowest tide level, when Ms. Schneider called her name. Ms. Schneider, tall and lean, stood next to Ms. Khatri, the school counselor, who was short and round. They were opposites side by side. Compare and contrast. And they were both frowning.

Did something happen to my dad? Charlotte asked, without getting up from her seat. She felt the other kids’ eyes on her. That’s when she decided she should probably stand up and follow Ms. Khatri out the door, where she discovered the answer was yes.

He’d had a heart attack and crashed the car in front of Old Navy before being brought to Crozer Hospital for emergency surgery.

And now she was here, drinking forbidden soda and watching her mother read Us Weekly, which is something her mother would never read in real life. But Charlotte knew she wasn’t really reading it, because her reading glasses were perched on her head. Eyesight is the first thing to go after fifty, her mother always said. And Charlotte knew why. The lens of the eye hardened over time and made it difficult to focus—something Charlotte learned after she crawled into a rabbit hole.

That’s what her dad called it when she got swept up researching useless information online.

You’ve crawled into your rabbit hole again, he would say.

Charlotte sipped her soda. She stared at the WAITING ROOM sign and thought: If you unshuffle and rearrange some of the letters of waiting room, you get migration, which is kind of the opposite of waiting. It was a good word scramble, all things considered, because her father loved birds. He’d joined a birding club after he retired from teaching art history at Swarthmore College last year. Sometimes he veered off the sidewalk when he walked because he was too busy looking up. If there weren’t any birds, he’d look at leaves instead.

Look at the shape of this one, Charlotte, he would say, a leaf in the center of his palm. See how the lines branch off here? And see the fringe on the outside? Beautiful, isn’t it? Art.

And Charlotte would nod, because she just wanted to get wherever they were going.

Flip, flip, flip. The sound of her mother with the magazine crawled under Charlotte’s skin. Charlotte’s mother was a statistician and usually hovered over information like a hawk, but she turned the pages so quickly that it was obvious she wasn’t reading a word. She just needed to be busy.

Did you tell Bridget what happened? her mother asked.

Yes. Bridget was her best friend. Of course she’d told her.

Charlotte slid down in her chair and stared at a discarded straw on the floor.

How long until Dad gets out of surgery? Charlotte asked.

I don’t know. Her mother glanced at the clock on the wall. Soon, I hope.

Charlotte was prepared for anything. Last year, when her father got a stent in his heart, she went down a rabbit hole and spent two hours watching open-heart surgeries and transplants. She knew what was happening with her dad at this very moment. He was hooked up to a heart-lung bypass machine. They’d probably already stopped his heart so they could operate on it.

Charlotte finished her soda in big gulps and went to the bathroom. Anything to get away from the flip, flip, flip.

Did you wash your hands? her mother asked, when she got back. There are a million germs floating around hospitals.

Charlotte didn’t answer. She secretly rolled her eyes instead. As if she didn’t know about Acinetobacter baumannii, a bacteria that teemed on bed rails, supply carts, and floors. As if she didn’t know that this species of bacteria could survive for long periods of time and was found in nearly half of all hospital rooms. As if she wasn’t aware that it was an opportunistic parasite that preyed on people with weakened immune systems.

Will we be able to see him when he’s in recovery? Charlotte asked.

If all goes well. The doctor said you have to be at least twelve to visit recovery and ICU. You lucked out.

Charlotte looked for the straw again, but it wasn’t there. Did someone pick it up while she was in the restroom?

She focused on the carpet instead.

Did you know starfish have hearts, too? she said. A human heart can beat a hundred times a minute, but a starfish’s heart only beats six times.

Her mother paused. I didn’t know that. About starfish, I mean.

They’re technically called ‘sea stars,’ but everyone calls them starfish. We’re dissecting one in life sciences soon.

Flip, flip, flip.

The carpet had a hexagon pattern.

The sum of the interior angles of any hexagon was 720 degrees.

Charlotte stared and stared at those interior angles until they barely existed anymore.

Life According to Ben

Part I

Eleven-year-old Benjamin Boxer had played approximately four hundred games of online Scrabble since getting his new phone three months earlier. He’d been dedicated to a single feverish goal: to unseat his nemesis—a twelve-year-old girl named Lottie Lock—and become number one on the leaderboard. He and Lottie had met on an online Scrabble message board specifically sanctioned for elementary school students, but Lottie lost access when she started middle school, so they decided to battle one-on-one to experience direct combat. They only played each other, but their scores were tallied with all the other Scrabble players and thus far, Lottie had nudged him out.

It was a friendly rivalry. They exchanged dozens of texts back and forth over the summer—you call that a play?, sorry/not-sorry about your devastating loss, prepare to suffer my vernacular wrath, etc., etc.—but they also complimented worthy performances, like the time Ben played ANT and Lottie won with ANTHEM. So they weren’t exactly Superman and Lex Luthor, but still. . . .

Ben considered it healthy to have a nemesis and he was determined to overtake first position with his own username: Ben Boot, in honor of fellow Ravenclaw Terry Boot, an obscure member of Dumbledore’s Army. Then, less than thirty minutes after the end of a school day in September, the unthinkable happened. (Actually, it was totally thinkable, but Ben still hadn’t expected it; at least not yet.) Somehow, Lottie Lock had slipped on her game and Ben Boot had advanced to first place with the word VINE, of all things.

Ben immediately took a screenshot and darted out of his room, down the hall, and into the kitchen so he could share the joyous news with his parents, who had—by a stroke of seemingly good fortune—taken the day off. They were certain to lift him on their shoulders and carry him through the neighborhood. In spirit, anyway.

Lucky for him, his mom and dad were already standing side by side, which was kind of weird because they were talking in whispers, and his mom was drinking coffee even though it was three in the afternoon, and their faces were very serious until they heard him come in. That’s when their serious faces morphed into something far more concerning: fake nonchalance.

Ben, his mother said, like he was a long-lost relative who had just appeared for a friendly dinner.

Son, his dad said.

Things were definitely weird.

We were just about to call you in, said his mother.

His father nodded. We have an announcement.

Ben looked from his mother to his father, then sat down at the kitchen island and laid his phone facedown. The joyous news would have to wait, apparently.

The expression on his parents’ faces was unfamiliar, so the announcement was clearly significant. There was only one thing it could be, in Ben’s mind. The three of them were escaping the dregs of Louisiana and moving to Michigan. That’s where Mr. and Mrs. Boxer had gone to college and they always talked about going back. Each time the subject came up, Ben imagined himself building snowmen, strutting down the halls of a new school, watching the leaves change color on the trees. Hiking up mountains, even. He was desperate to leave the hot, sticky swamps of south Louisiana and live in the magical wonderland of Ann Arbor, Michigan. He’d never been to Ann Arbor. Or Michigan. But anything was better than Lanester, Louisiana.

Ben sat on his hands so he wouldn’t wiggle out of his seat. He was suddenly antsy. The Scrabble victory, coupled with this forthcoming announcement, was too much for his nerves. He packed his imaginary bags, mentally started a new game against Lottie, and inhaled the nonexistent scent of his new school, all while his parents moved even closer together on the other side of the island.

They both started talking at the same time, then stopped. His father cleared his throat.

You go first, Delia, he said.

Ben’s mother looked into her mug and began. Your father and I . . .

. . . have decided it’s time to make a move.

. . . are finally following through on those Michigan plans.

. . . can’t live this small-town life any more.

. . . are getting a divorce.

The room swelled and swallowed him, all while he sat on his hands.

He swayed in his seat. He wasn’t sure he’d heard correctly. For one thing, his mother had said it to her coffee, not to him. Plus it didn’t make any

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  • (4/5)
    I love middle grade books that are so realistic and emotionally developed like this one. The struggles of friendship in middle school are something I remember so strongly, and it is refreshing to read similar accounts in a book instead of a polished, happy, popular life.
  • (4/5)
    This is the first book by Erin Entrada Kelly that I have read, and I may have to look into her other books. “You Go First” is a great book for middle school children. It addresses several of the issues that children in schools are dealing with – bullying, separation of parents, self-esteem, to name a few. The book is also about relationships. The author did a great job of addressing these issues in a believable manner. Ben (11) and Charlotte (12) live in separate states and have never met. They both are very intelligent and considered geeks or nerds among their peers. They met online and play Scrabble together. Neither has a friend to turn to when they have problems. The book covers one week in the life of these two as they tackle the challenges of being a teenager. Little do they know how much alike they are. And above all, they are there when they need each other.As I read the book I kept thinking to myself how lucky I was to grow up in a time when I did not have to deal with the bullying that so many children now encounter. My heart ached for Ben and Charlotte as they felt so alone, so alienated. And what do you do if you thought you had a best friend and that friend betrays you? All part of growing up, but nonetheless painful when it happens.The story moves slowly so this may not appeal to those who are used to a world where everything moves at the speed of light. But it does give hope to those struggling – letting them know they are not the only ones going through troubled times and that they can get through it.
  • (4/5)
    Charlotte and Ben live in different states but play each other on online Scrabble. They each are logical, gifted and smart and have few (if any) friends. To a certain extent, they are outcasts at school (Ben more so than Charlotte). Over the period of a week, unexpected events shake up their views of the world and their places in it: Charlotte's father has heart surgery and Ben's parents announce they are divorcing. The surgery highlights Charlotte's indifference to her father's appreciation of art and nature, and leads to her clearly seeing the demise of her friendship with Bridget. Ben runs for student council as a way to feel control over something after the divorce announcement, this despite that he's among the least popular kids in school and frequently bullied. Author Kelly is on point putting to voice the often confusing feelings of a child's loneliness. She has her finger on that pulse much like author Kevin Henkes. Very affecting and intimate reading.
  • (4/5)
    Awesome novel. I love it. You can join in NovelStar writing contest with a theme "WEREWOLVES" Prices are amazing!

    or email any of the following editors;
  • (5/5)
    Amazing book! I love this! Must read! ? it is relatable!
  • (5/5)
    Twelve-year-old Charlotte and 11-year-old Ben are both going through an extremely stressful week -- Charlotte's older father in hospital after a heart attack and Ben's parents have just announced to him that they are getting a divorce. Entering middle school has meant both tweens have grown apart from their elementary school friends and aren't sure who they can reach out to now. The pair -- who only know each other through a virtual Scrabble game -- begin talking to each other on the phone.This was a lovely book about the difficult feelings that often happen to middle school students -- losing old friends, making new friends, feeling lonely, feeling disconnected, dealing with school problems, dealing with home problems, worrying what everyone is thinking about them, and dealing with bullying and teasing. It was extremely heartfelt and I can imagine many children will see themselves in some of the situations presented. The power of friendship (as well as strong family bonds) is highlighted throughout.Using just one week of their lives was an interesting device, and Kelly manages to explore the characters in great depth by using memories of past events to fully flesh out the characters and storyline. Everything is not perfect by the end but the conclusion is optimistic. I would definitely recommend this to middle school students who will either recognize themselves in the characters and/or gain empathy for others they see at school or social events.
  • (4/5)
    Thanks to #kidlitexchange for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own. ????You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly. Charlotte is pulled out of Science class on Monday when her Dad is taken to the hospital. Charlotte is scared but being in middle school is complicated. Charlotte doesn't fit in with other girls at school and her only friend is Bridget. Then Bridget begins to pull away and one day while spying Charlotte learns Bridget doesn't want to be her friend. Meanwhile, Ben comes home from school on Monday to find his parents whispering in the kitchen and they tell him they are getting a divorce. Ben is angry but he doesn't have anyone to tell. He plunges into running for treasurer of the 6th grade but becomes the target of kids who are bullying him. Charlotte and Ben have been texting and talking on the phone but both pretend to be someone they aren't until Friday. On Friday both of their worlds get shook and they both realize sometimes friends are there you just have to learn to look for them. I didn't feel the ending of this book was final. It kind of just leaves you hanging wondering what happened. I also feel the parents in this book were just sort of absent. But over all a great middle school read. Recommended for ages 8 to 12 but high schoolers could learn a lesson or two in this book as well. Review also posted on Instagram @jasonnstacie, Goodreads/StacieBoren, Go Read, Amazon, and my blog at readsbystacie.com