Kitchen Table Reviews: 11 Birthdays
Mir gives her son the week off to do some birthday bonding with her daughter over a great book.
11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass
Something very exciting happened in our house last week—my daughter turned 11. Please pray for me. Oh, I kid! Not about her turning 11, though. That actually did happen. And while I find her ever-increasing forays into preteen-angst challenging, this is one of my favorite ages so far. One minute she’s still a little girl, the next she’s astounding me with her maturity. And then the next minute she’s stomping off to her room. (Maybe you’d better pray for me, after all….)
What better time to whip out Wendy Mass’ 11 Birthdays? I gave my son the week off and told my daughter we’d be doing a bit of birthday bonding.
Me: How would you summarize this story for someone who hasn’t read it?
Daughter: Well, Amanda and Leo have the same birthday. And they’ve always been friends and celebrated it together. But then something happens and they stop being friends, and then on their 11th birthday, time stops. Like, Amanda goes through the whole day—and has kind of a bad day of it—and then she wakes up the next morning and it’s her birthday again. And it keeps happening.
Me: Did you like this book?
Daughter: I liked it so much, I read it twice! It’s really, really good. It’s funny and it has suspense and awful moments and great moments and basically just everything a good book should have.
Me: I liked how it was all told from Amanda’s point of view. Do you think it would’ve been as good if it were told in the third person, or from someone else’s point of view?
Daughter: No, it had to be her. Like, how relieved she was waking up and feeling certain that finally it was Saturday, and then she bumped into that creepy SpongeBob balloon her parents got for her birthday and realized it was still Friday. Again. And she thought, “Nooooooo!” You really felt like you were right inside her head.
Me: Did Amanda feel like an 11-year-old to you?
Daughter: Yeah, the author did a good job of making her like a real kid.
Me: I liked that she was a kid; it was about her friendship with Leo and no weird “first romance” sorts of things.
Daughter: Mom! No one my age is having romance!
Me: Don’t you have friends who claim to have girlfriends or boyfriends?
Daughter: I guess so. But that’s not romance.
Me: Moving on! How’d you like the ending?
Daughter: It was great. Things got fixed. Most of them, anyway. Not everything, though.
Me: Sort of like real life, right?
Daughter: Yeah. This was such a good book.
I concur. This book should be required reading for your 11-year-old.
Pros: Funny story full of teachable moments without being preachy. Very positive portrayal of friendships. Engaging and grown-up feeling without being too mature.
Cons: Not everything can be fixed. Requires pretty hefty suspension of disbelief. SpongeBob is creepy.
11 Birthdays gets two big “this one goes all the way to 11” thumbs up from our kitchen table.