Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a young adult book geared towards middle schoolers. The main character is Elise, an 11 year old girl being raised by her aunt and uncle. Elise's mother died the day Elise was born and her father died of cancer just a few years later, while she was still a tot. As the story begins, Elise and her lifelong friend, Frankln, are starting 6th grade at middle school. Things start off badly the first day when Elise is bullied by Amanda, her lockermate. The bullying intensifies, and Elise blames Frankin for making them both appear to be 'babies'. (Amanda is a regular 'mean girl' who made me want to get mean and smack her!) Elise's school work and friendship with Franklin suffer. She also begins to question her place in the world. 'Do her aunt and uncle feel 'stuck' with her?' 'Did her mom love her and think she was worth dying for?' 'WAS she worth dying for?'
The whole time Elise has lived with her aunt and uncle, she has known about 8 rooms on the upper floor of the barn that she was not allowed to enter. She always assumed it was some equipment belonging to her uncle. On her 12th birthday, she finds a key with her name, and soon realizes it belongs to one of the rooms. It turns out that her father loved puzzle and when he realized he would not be around to watch Elise grow up, he set up this puzzle for her. There are 8 keys to the 8 rooms. As the story proceeds, Elise learns not only what is in each room, but learns about her self and her place in the world. This was a quick, easy read for me, and I think most middle school students would also find it easy to read and relate to the story well.
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