IT HAPPENED ON SATURDAY, by Sydney Dunlap, North Star Editions, Feb. 20, 2023, Hardcover, $19.99 (ages 11 and up)
A teen is lured into a relationship via social media in It Happened on Saturday, by Sydney Dunlap.
Thirteen-year-old Julia would much rather work with horses at the rescue barn than worry about things like dating and makeup. But when her BFF meets a boy at camp, Julia’s determined not to get left behind. After a makeover from her older sister, she posts a picture of herself online and gets a comment from Tyler―a seemingly nice kid who lives across town. As they DM more and more, Julia’s sure that Tyler understands her in a way her family never has. Even better, their relationship earns her tons of attention at school.
Then Julia finds out Tyler’s true plan, and her world is turned upside down. She fiercely guards her secret, but could her silence allow her friends to fall into the same trap? —Synopsis provided by North Star Editions
It Happened on Saturday reads like a “message” book. And that’s not to say the message is bad, but it lacks that sort of organic feel that makes a book feel special. Instead, it feels like the author has a message to share, and the book is her way of doing it.
It Happened on Saturday is specifically about a girl who becomes enamored with a guy she meets online. He compliments her photo and they begin “talking.” Soon, he’s asking her to meet and later lures her into a hotel room where he intends to hand her off to a human trafficker. That’s the first half of the book. The second half focuses on her experiences after getting away.
Again, this is something to be aware of, but something with the book just didn’t sit right with me. I often felt like author Sydney Dunlap was telling rather than showing, and somehow the whole thing felt a bit formulaic.
It Happened on Saturday is not bad, it’s just not great. I suggest parents read it before or in conjunction with their kid. Because of the topic, it warrants further discussion.
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