‘Merci Suarez Changes Gears’: Book Review

Merci Suarez Changes Gears definitely broke my reading slump!

While I read for book clubs and tours these past few months (and surely enjoyed them), I needed a read for ‘me-time’. This middle grade read was calling my name since purchasing in Doylestown months back.

Want to know what I think? Keep reading…

Merci Suarez Changes Gears | Book Info

Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina. A curly haired girl riding a bike. Palm trees and pink buildings are in the background. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1561068468l/38185346._SX318_.jpg

Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Length: 355 pages
Source: Hardcover
Release Date: September 11, 2018


Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different. However, she had no idea just how different! For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. Also, they don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition.

So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy!

Things aren’t well at home, either. Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately. He forgets important things, falls from his bike, and gets angry over nothing. No one tells Merci what’s going on, so she’s left to her own worries, while also feeling all on her own at school.

In a coming-of-age tale full of humor and wisdom, award-winning author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change of middle school–and the steadfast connection that defines family.

Merci Suarez Changes Gears | Author Info

Meg Medina. Photo Credit: Petite Shards Production. Link: https://megmedina.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/meg-medina-headshot-2-2016-535x800.jpg
Photo Credit: Petite Shards Production

Meg Medina is a Newbery award-winning and New York Times best-selling author. She writes picture books, as well as middle grade and young adult fiction. Her works are called ‘heartbreaking’, ‘lyrical’ and ‘must haves for every collection. She lives with her family in Richmond, VA.

My Review

Merci Suarez Changes Gears is a tale rich in diversity and community. Merci’s family works hard for their success. While lacking material things, Merci is wealthy with her family’s love. Their family setup reminds me of my living situation growing up. Similar to Merci’s family’s ‘Casitas’, my family lived in a multi-family unit. It was truly an inter-generational household! Additionally, elders and older relatives looked after the younger generation.

Also, this features a strong and positive tale with a Latinx family. Given that I’m also Latinx (Puerto Rican), I can certainly relate to their family arrangements!

This is an emotional yet powerful coming of age story. Merci handles big changes when she begins middle school. Friendship dynamics shift, and social circles blend in accordance to gender roles. Despite her attempts to contribute in school, Merci’s intelligence is ridiculed by her peers. She learns to seek support through change. In addition to group changes, Merci handles her first crush!

In Merci Suarez Changes Gears, our main character makes it clear that her family works for their status. Merci’s parents instill the value of a good education through sacrifice. This strong work ethic is passed down to Merci as she does jobs with her father. Already she thinks differently than most of her peers, such as Edna Santos. While Edna passes through intimidation, Merci relies on her quick wit and thinking skills.

Also, Merci handles the gradual change of Lolo. He experiences the changes Alzheimer’s disease cause. He fails to recognize family members. Familiar trips turn into vague memories. Indeed, Merci struggles to adapt to this sudden change in life.

Final Thoughts

To conclude, Merci Suarez Changes Gears is a wonderful Middle Grade story. Meg Medina beautifully writes about middle school friendship, family, and community. I certainly recommend for those seeking a diverse, coming of age story!

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