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Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

*Lexie* by Audrey Couloumbis, illustrated by Julia Denos - middle grades book review
Also by Audreay Couloumbis:


The Misadventures of Maude March
by Audrey Couloumbis, illustrated by Julia Denos
Ages 7-11 208 pages Random House March 2011 Hardcover    

Capturing a turning point in a young girl’s life, Lexie is essentially a “slice of life” novel for young readers.

Eleven-year-old Lexie’s parents are recently divorced. Lexie lives with her mother but is vacationing with her father at their cottage on the beach – for the first time since the divorce. Unbeknownst to Lexie or her mother, her father has invited along his girlfriend, Vicky, and her two sons – Harris, age three, and fourteen-year-old Ben.

All are honestly trying to get along, but the situation is naturally tense. Vicky is uncomfortable but very kind. Harris is a typical, very messy and not-well-behaved preschooler. Ben is a pleasant teen who cannot swim and is generally just as unhappy as Lexie is about their vacation arrangements.

As they spend the week together, Lexie struggles with her role – is she a guest in a new family, or are they visitors in her home? Family traditions continue, but are different with new people. Their relationships build slowly – Lexie and Ben give each other their own space, and help take care of Harris. The two work together when Ben finds a sand shark trapped in a tide pool, and they spend all day digging a canal so the animal can swim back to the ocean.

Nevertheless, everyone is affected by the tension. Vicky is physically uncomfortable after having been bitten by sand fleas and Lexie’s father is not at all patient with Harris. Lexie struggles with anger toward her father; she needs to call her mother but is afraid of the background noise. She knows that her father really must be the one to tell her mother about Vicky.

An honest, positive look at the aftermath of divorce and a child’s feelings toward new relationships and possibly remarriage, Lexie is a book which many girls in similar situations will gravitate toward and connect with in their own lives. The attractive cover and interior pencil illustrations break up the text and not only punctuate the text but also provide visual reminders to the reader when reviewing past chapters and predicting what might happen next.

The beach setting plays an important role in the story with descriptions of life by the ocean which impact the thoughts and activities of the characters. All the characters are truly good people, trying their best in a difficult situation.

With a hopeful ending, Lexie is a realistic portrayal of a turning point in a young girl’s life which conveys feelings about how relationships and people can grow together despite the ups and downs of real life.
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  Kristine Wildner/2011 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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