You Go First (Hardcover)
December 1969 Indie Next List
“Told in alternate chapters, You Go First is the story of Charlotte Lock and Ben Boxer, who are united by their love of online Scrabble. Lottie's dad is sick and her friend group is undergoing some painful changes. Ben's parents are divorcing, and he decides to run for student government to make new friends and implement changes to his school's recycling program. Their friendship is a point of stability during a period of upheaval for both kids. Kelly nails the heartbreaking isolation of growing up, the pain of bullying, and the complicated nature of familial and platonic relationships. You Go First gives voice to the vulnerability of growing up and offers a hopeful ending for middle grade readers of all ages.”
— Sarah Sawyers-Lovett, Big Blue Marble Bookstore, Philadelphia, PA
Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly’s You Go First is an engaging exploration of family, bullying, spelling, art, and the ever-complicated world of middle school friendships. Her perfectly pitched tween voice will resonate with fans of Kate DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale.
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.
Over the course of a week, Charlotte and Ben—online friends connected only by a Scrabble game—will intersect in unexpected ways, as they struggle to navigate the turmoil of middle school. This engaging story about growing up and finding your place in the world by the Newbery Medal–winning author of Hello, Universe and the winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature will appeal to fans of Rebecca Stead and Rita Williams-Garcia.
“Kelly knows her audience well and uses Ben and Charlotte’s alternating points of view to capture moments of tween anguish with searing honesty. ...Heartfelt and hopeful, this novel will encourage young readers to offer their hand in friendship to kids who, just like them, might be struggling.”
“Readers will undoubtedly see themselves in these pages. ...A well-crafted, entertaining call for middle schoolers to find their voices and remain accountable in shaping their own social spheres.”
“A delicate look at friendship, bullying and coming of age. ...You Go First is a brilliant follow-up to Entrada Kelly’s Newbery winner Hello, Universe, and challenges readers to rethink the rules of friendship.”
“The link between the two main characters becomes a subtle bond that enables each one to make it through an emotionally challenging week and come out stronger. Readers drawn by the intriguing jacket art will enjoy the novel’s perceptive dual narrative.”
“With character-revealing prose, Kelly holds readers’ attention as the narrative moves back and forth between her two fully realized protagonists and their intricately drawn home and school settings.”
“Kelly writes with sympathetic gravity of young people who feel lost in a world where they thought they knew the way. ...Readers will be glad to see that both [Charlotte and Ben] will manage to remain themselves and be okay.”
“Written by the recent winner of the Newbery Award, this novel speaks to the many kids who find themselves lonely in the midst of middle school.”