Monday, May 20, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Eight Keys

Today’s Pick: Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur

Published by Wendy Lamb Books

From Amazon:

Elise and Franklin have always been best friends. Elise has always lived in the big house with her loving Uncle and Aunt, because Elise's parents died when she was too young to remember them. There's always been a barn behind the house with eight locked doors on the second floor.

When Elise and Franklin start middle school, things feel all wrong. Bullying. Not fitting in. Franklin suddenly seems babyish. Then, soon after her 12th birthday, Elise receives a mysterious key left for her by her father. A key that unlocks one of the eight doors upstairs in the barn . .

My Take:

This was a touching story about that challenging time when you start middle school and your friendships and family life is changing. The characters in this story felt very alive to me, including Elise’s aunt and uncle (instead of being absent or fading into the background as in many middle grade novels).

Elise wasn’t always kind to her best friend, but the story seemed a realistic portrayal of how Elise tried to find her place in the social sphere, and the problem of bullying and whether to talk about it to anyone or not. The mystery of the keys to the locked rooms in the barn was unique story element that kept me wanting to read more.

As a writer, I’d study this book more closely to see how author created a full picture of the main character’s life, showing both her time at home and her time at school. There were careful details about the setting that created a strong sense of place. I really admired how the way Suzanne LaFleur layered in deeper emotions and thoughts.

Favourite Quotes:

“I didn’t know how to explain how lately I had had more thoughts than ever before whirring through my head and sometimes when I stopped to think about them I lost track of time.”

“I thought all my questions would be answered, but instead I found a million more.”

“We have plenty of room for our lives, I mean. Especially the ones who make us be the people we want to be.”

“A good friend is one of the hardest things to keep in this life. Don't forget that sometimes you have to work at it.”

Other Info:

Suzanne LaFleur lives near Boston and in New York. She loves to travel and used to be a competitive swimmer. She knew she wanted to be a writer when she was in fourth grade.

On her website she says, “I find that the writing process goes so much more smoothly when I hold my ideas in my imagination for a long time before I sit down in front of the blank paper or computer screen.”

She also suggests that exercise is a good way to keep writing flowing: “The more I work out, the more I find myself writing.”

Other Books:
Love, Aubrey

For more info, visit Suzanne LaFleur’s website.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was dreamed up by the incredible Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of the Lost Cities. Visit her blog for an up-to-date list of all the bloggers who are participating and posting about middle grade books today!


  1. Sounds like an interesting story. And I'm intrigued by what the key opens. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Oh, I've read this one and really enjoyed it. I also read LOVE, AUBREY. I think I actually liked this one better.

  3. I like your choice quotes. It shows the book has depth.

  4. This sounds really good, and I love the cover. Oh, there are so many books!

  5. I read an loved Love, Aubrey. I have been curious about this one and have just added it to my list! It sounds awesome! Thanks for sharing. Great review!


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