Keep It Together, Keiko Carter
by Florence, Debbi Michiko

Looking forward to tackling the seventh grade with her two best friends by her side, Keiko struggles with an estrangement between her friends and her feelings for a crush, who she hopes will agree to a triple date at the Fall Ball. By the award-winning author of the Jasmine Toguchi series. Simultaneous eBook.

Debbi Michiko Florence is the author of the Jasmine Toguchi chapter books (JLG selections, the Amelia Bloomer and CCBC Choices lists, and a Cybils award winner). A third-generation Japanese American and native Californian, Debbi lives in Connecticut with her husband, rescue dog, rabbit, and two ducks. Visit her at

Keiko Carter and her best friends, Audrey and Jenna, are starting seventh grade. To reinvent themselves for the new school year, Audrey suggests that the girls find boyfriends in time for their school's annual Fall Ball. Audrey and Jenna's strained relationship begins to unravel when both girls realize they like the same boy. Coupled with that, Keiko's parents are fighting, and she begins to have feelings for Audrey's maligned brother, Conner. Ever the fixer, Keiko decides to help her friends and family salvage their relationships, but she struggles to accept that sometimes even the best and longest of friendships must end if continuing them means you are not being true to yourself. Tween and teen relationships are explored in this charming middle-grade story by Florence. This book would be a solid recommendation for young readers looking for lighthearted romance but not ready for more mature YA content. Fans of 11 Before 12 (2017), by Lisa Greenwald, and 11 Birthdays (2009), by Wendy Mass, will enjoy this book as well. Grades 4-6. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Keiko and her two best friends navigate the drama of seventh grade. Keiko Carter is ready to start seventh grade with her two best friends, Jenna Sakai and Audrey Lassiter. Jenna is finally back from spending the summer with her dad in Texas, and everything is perfect now that the trio is together again. Keiko wants to experience new clubs and activities together, but Audrey has something else in mind: boyfriends. Keiko goes along with it, but Jenna tires of always doing things Audrey's way. Stuck in the middle of the fight, Keiko wants to make everyone happy. And that's just the beginning of her troubles. Her mom is never home because of a new job; her sister is hiding something; and Keiko might have a crush on a boy she shouldn't like. Keeping the peace is what Keiko does, but she must decide if it's worth sacrificing her happiness this time. In her middle-grade debut, Florence creates a fun, accessible story, touching on the realities of middle school, such as friendships, fallouts, misunderstandings, first crushes, and fitting in. The hig hs and lows of the girls' friendship highlight toxic relationships versus true friendship. Keiko is biracial, half Japanese American and half white; Jenna is Japanese American; and Audrey is white. Sweet and smart. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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