Monday, April 3, 2017

MMGM: Eight Keys

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick:
Eight Keys, by Suzanne LaFleur
Eight Keys

Written by, Suzanne LaFleur

Wendy Lamb Books, 2011
Grades 4-8, 590L
226 pages, 45000 words

Family, Friendships

       The trouble all started right before the first day of sixth grade, the last time Franklin and I played Knights.
        Knights works like this: we get our swords, we head out to the woods, and we go on chivalrous missions to battle ghost knights.
       Uncle Hugh made our swords when we were six, which is when we came up with the game. Franklin's mom wasn't happy about him making us weapons, but Uncle Hugh assured her that the worst that could happen was we would get splinters—and that's only happened a couple of times.
       We never really battle each other.
       Or at least, we never had before.

Eight Keys tells the story of  Elise, who lives with her aunt and uncle. She is changing schools, entering sixth grade. That can be a magical time, but, as in this case, it means the beginning of a transition from childhood to maturity. Childish habits must be examined and abandoned or accepted and sometimes this process is painful or confusing. Add to that Elise's best friend: he's awkward, uncool, and...a boy! It is at this turbulent stage, that Elise is given the key (literally) to opening her past and to discovering details about her parents. She must explore her feelings for them and that means revisiting old heartaches and uncovering new ones.

Eight Keys is a really emotional and sweet book about growing up, changing schools, best friends, bullying, self-image, and family. I love the MC's voice and made an immediate connection with her. The writing put me right back at that awkward age. The setting was one of those where you want to be there despite the heartache. There are many funny moments and bright spots, too. I didn't agree with the author's solution to the bullying problem, but think this could be used as a point for discussion. It did have a few non-swearing-rude words that we don't allow in our house for this age group, but was clean and well-written on the whole. I would heartily recommend this for both boys and girls, even though the MC is an 11/12 year old girl.

1. Don't just take my word for it. Read Rosi's review of Eight Keys on The Write Stuff

2. Find MMGM reviews of Suzanne LaFleur's other books

Love, Aubrey
On Completely Full Bookshelf
Reviewed by Jennifer Rumberger

Listening For Lucca
From Karen on Ms. Yingling Reads
From Pam on So I'm Fifty
Love, Aubrey, 2009
Listening for Lucca, 2013

3.  Need more great books for your TBR pile?

Michael of Middle Grade Mafioso recommends Grounded, by Kate Klise.

Greg of Always in the Middle and Karen on Ms. Yingling Reads recommend Be Light Like A Bird, by Monika Schroeder.

Sharon recommends Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech on Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe.

Rebecca Behrens reviews Sway, by Amber McRee Turner

In a previous Bookish Ambition post, I suggest Zoe in Wonderland, by Brenda Woods.
Grounded, by Kate Klise
Cover by Nick Lu
Be Light Like A Bird,
by Monika Schroeder
Walk Two Moons,
by Sharon Creech

Sway, by Amber McRee Turner
Zoe in Wonderland,
by Brenda Woods
Cover by Frank Morrison

I'd also suggest Journey by Patricia MacLachlan and So B. It, by Sarah Weeks.

Have you reviewed a Marvelous Middle Grade Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday recommendations for April 3, 2017.

MMGM started way back in 2010 by Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of Lost Cities. Each week, participating bloggers review our favorite books for ages 8-12. Why not join us?


  1. I like the opening sentence. It makes you want to read more. What a unique coming of age story. There are many themes in this story. And I like emotional reads! Thank you for the other book recommendations. I've only read one of them.

    1. So glad I found this at a library sale last week. Otherwise I'd have put off reading it! Thanks.

  2. I like the sound of this one. A contemporary story with heart and plenty of problems to overcome. Thanks for the heads-up. I've added it to my list of books to read.

    1. You'll have to let me know what you think. Thanks for checking in.

  3. This one has caught my attention before, but sometimes it takes more than one time to get it a firmly fixed spot on the TBR pile. Thanks for bringing it to my attention again!

    1. I know what you mean. Same with me. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks.


Thank-you for taking time to share your thoughts!