July 23rd, 2018 by Karen
I used to really enjoy Scrabble, but now I’m more of a Bananagrams person; I prefer the quick pace. Maybe because of that, I could never really get into Words with Friends or any of the other online Scrabble options. But I love the idea of making a new friend through one of those games — and that’s what happens in You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly.
Ben and Charlotte live halfway across the country from each other, but they have two big things in common: they both excel at Scrabble (way more than anyone else they know) and they are both dealing with friend issues at school — or rather, the issue of lack of friends. And the thing is, they don’t actually know they have that second thing in common. Yet they find a way to help each other even over the great distance.
Besides the friend thing, there are also other major changes happening in Charlotte and Ben’s lives: Charlotte’s dad is sick in the hospital while Ben’s parents surprise him with a terrible announcement about their own family situation.
So as you can see, this is not a happy-go-lucky, hilarious romp of a book by any means. But things are not hopeless either, and I enjoyed seeing how Charlotte and Ben’s stories came together.
I would recommend this book to fans of serious stories about friendship and family — like Falling Over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick, Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan, Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff, and The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern.
Also, the author of You Go First won the 2018 Newbery Medal for another book, Hello, Universe. So if you’ve already read that one and enjoyed it, definitely check this one out — and vice versa!
Have you ever had a pen pal or other long-distance friend? Leave a comment with your story!
In high school, Karen became friends with someone from halfway across the country when they attended the same summer program. They kept in touch over the years through letters and emails, and they’re still friends today!