JENNIFER CHAN IS NOT ALONE, by Tae Keller, Random House Books for Young Readers, April 26, 2022, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 8-12)
Tae Keller’s Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone follows a girl who believes in aliens and the kids who alienate her for those beliefs.
Sometimes middle school can make you feel like you’re totally alone in the universe…but what if we aren’t alone at all?
Thanks to her best friend, Reagan, Mallory Moss knows the rules of middle school. The most important one? You have to fit in to survive. But then Jennifer Chan moves in across the street, and that rule doesn’t seem to apply. Jennifer doesn’t care about the laws of middle school, or the laws of the universe. She believes in aliens — and she thinks she can find them.
Then Jennifer goes missing. Using clues from Jennifer’s journals, Mallory goes searching. But the closer she gets, the more Mallory has to confront why Jennifer might have run . . . and face the truth within herself. —Synopsis provided by Random House Books for Young Readers
Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone is not a lighthearted read. There are moments of lightheartedness, but it also explores some heavy topics.
Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone is less about the title character and more about her would-be friend Mallory. Mallory lives her life cautiously. She’s afraid of breaking the status quo, of being herself, of stepping beyond boundaries. Jennifer is the complete opposite. Mallory is intrigued by what she sees in Jennifer, but she just can’t let herself go there.
When other kids start bullying Jennifer, Mallory knows it’s wrong. She knows she should say/do something, but she can’t bring herself to help. The situation is eating Mallory up inside. She begins to see herself as a bad person. She’s overwhelmed.
Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone is a thoughtful look at friendships and how friends can influence decisions. It will leave readers thinking about their own actions alone and in groups.
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