What a great book for middle schoolers who feel out of place! I really didn’t know very much about scoliosis before I picked up this book, and I certainly didn’t realize that it still effects a good number of people every year. For some reason, I had it filed away with Polio in my head – some rare disorder that is practically extinct today. So I’m so glad that I picked up Braced and got a chance to correct my false beliefs and learn more about this not-uncommon condition.
Rachel is a very relatable character (I mean, who would want to enter middle school wearing what is essentially full body armor of the most obvious kind?), and I really enjoyed her POV. She’s a bit angsty at times, but that felt right for an MG title of this nature, and I didn’t feel it ever reached the point where I was annoyed and couldn’t enjoy the story.
I think I liked the friendship dynamic the best – it was so true to life and I was rooting for things to work out between Rachel and her friends the entire story! But a close second for me was Rachel’s relationship with her parents. Maybe it’s the prospect of becoming a parent in the next couple of weeks, but I was so absorbed in watching her family dynamics play out that I didn’t even realize I was holding my breath for her and her mom to speak openly to each other until they did. It was very poignant to watch their relationship grow and change throughout the novel. As for the romance, it was cute but not really the main focus, which is good because I think it could easily have detracted from the storyline if Tate had been a larger character.
My only real complaint was that there was so much focus on soccer, and I’m just not really a sports person. So take that for what it’s worth, and know that if you like sports, you’ll probably adore this book even more for that reason!
Thank you to Scholastic for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 4/5 stars
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