I had another review schedule to go up with Our Way Back to Always, but could not resist pairing Nina Moreno’s middle grade debut, Join the Club, Maggie Diaz, with her sophomore book. I am officially running out of reviews, so I should probably start writing reviews again. I’ve been very lackadaisical with reviewing lately and it’s about to catch up with me >_<
Title: Our Way Back to Always Author: Nina Moreno Series: N/A Pages: 368 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Release Date: October 19th 2021
TW: death of a parent, cancer, grief
Nina Moreno delivers another heartwarming YA contemporary with her sophomore novel, Our Way Back to Always. Lou and Sam are entering their senior year with all the uncertainty of adulthood at their doorstep. When Lou uncovers a bucket list she and Sam made when they were kids, she is determined to finally check things off. Then Sam decides he wants in too, even though the two haven’t spoken in years. With the bucket list as their guide, Sam and Lou embark on an unforgettable year where they discover both new and old things about themselves and each other. Lou and Sam are struggling with decisions that will impact their future. Lou knows her grades and test scores leave a lot to be desired, but she is determined to get into a prestigious school. After his father’s passing, Sam can’t imagine leaving his family for college, but in order to stay, he has to let go of so many of his own dreams. He wants to be strong but his grief sometimes weighs him so far down. I really appreciated Moreno creating space for both of these characters to explore new paths for themselves. For Sam, in particular, this is important because his world has been irrevocably changed and moving forward, he has to find a way to form new dreams for himself. Lou is pushed beyond her comfort zone. It’s hard for her to trust people and let them in. I really enjoyed her new friendship with Rocky as Lou doesn’t find it easy to make new friends. As important as it was to see her open up to Sam again, I’m glad that she also found someone else to bring into her fold. Port Coral, the small sea side town shines once again in this companion novel to Don’t Date, Rosa Santos (loved the cameo as well!). From the sights and sounds to the people, this place is so full of love. Fans of Don’t Date Rosa Santos will rejoice with this one and those just being introduced to Port Coral with fall in love. Our Way Back to Always is sure to be adored by fans of small town romance and childhood friends to lovers.
★ ★ ★ ★
Title: Join the Club, Maggie Diaz Author: Nina Moreno, illustrated by Courtney Lovett Series: N/A Pages: 240 Publisher: Scholastic Press Release Date: May 17th 2022
Disclaimer: This review is based on the ARC of this book, provided by the author, which does not influence my review.
Nina Moreno debuts with a fresh middle grade voice with Join the Club, Maggie Diaz. Courtney Lovett also provides fun and lively illustrations that bring this story to life. Maggie Diaz knows she isn’t the most reliable, her grades aren’t always the best, and she could be considered flighty. But seventh grade is going to be different. Maggie is determined to succeed and show she can take on more responsibility. In hopes of obtaining her first phone and more freedom, Maggie sets off on a journey to prove that she is mature and not a little kid any more. Maggie is an easy character to like. She’s incredibly determined and earnest. Although her plans do not always work out the way she imagined in her head, you can’t help but admire her ambition and gumption. I really enjoyed reading about Maggie and her family. Her abuela recently moved into her room, creating a new and sometimes chaotic new dynamic in the household. Maggie’s been spending less time with her best friends, Julian and Zoey, as both have their own interests and clubs they’ve joined. Feeling left out, Maggie decides to her first club, Future Leaders. Of course, Maggie quickly find outs how hard it is to juggle family life, school, and extracurriculars. Join the club, Maggie Diaz is a cute, coming-of-age middle grade novel perfect for tweens just beginning to discover who they are.
★ ★ ★ ★