Before jumping into the synopsis of Just Like That, it should be said that there is much in this novel that will make more sense and be more impactful if you have first read Wednesday Wars as this story begins just months after Wednesday Wars ends.. This is not essential but would certainly be my recommendation.
Now, on to the story. When 8th grader Meryl Lee Kowalski is sent off to St. Elene’s Preparatory Academy for Girls in the fall of 1968, her world is already in turmoil. There she encounters the world of upscale privilege, boarding school tradition and the notorious “inner rings” of established groups driven by prestige, gossip and arrogance. Running north and parallel to Meryl Lee’s story is Matt Coffin, who finds himself surviving on the Maine coast near St. Elenes with a pillowcase full of $100 bills and the daily fear of being found by the criminal he took it from. When their paths cross under the watchful eye of the school’s mysterious yet kind headmistress, they both begin a journey toward renewal and growth – for them and for all those whose lives they touch.
Just Like That is another masterpiece from Gary D. Schmidt. Filled with adventure, mystery and deep lessons about friendship, accomplishment and what it means to be a good person, this book will surely be a family favorite for all who read it. Meryl Lee actions bely a heart tuned to truth and justice and her pursuit of all that is right and fair and good will be an inspiration to any who journey with her. She shows again and again the power of small acts of kindness. Exquisitely written, the story will suck you in so that you don’t want to put it down. Everything about this book is wonderful!
- Ages: 10 – 99
- Awards: None
- Pages: 403
- Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
By Aaron G Myers
It all started because Holling Hoodhood was a Presbyterian. On Wednesdays, a bus came from the Temple Beth El to take a load to Hebrew School and an hour later the bus from St. Alberts to take the rest of the class to Catechism and Holling was left alone with Mrs. Baker all day long. At first it was a struggle, having to clean the chalkboards and take out the trash but then Mrs. Baker decided that it was about time that Holling picked up Shakespeare. Through the book Holling Hoodhood must struggle with track, bullies, an annoying sister, unrealistic expectations from his family and of course Wednesdays with Mrs. Baker. Hilarious to the breaking point yet touching and heartfelt this book is a wonderful blend of humor and heartbreak, showing what it was like growing up in one of the most infamous decades of American History.
There are very few books that can be both flamboyantly hilarious, and deeply touching at the same time and this book is definitely one of them. When I read this book I can’t count the amount of times I laughed out loud, while other parts of the book brought me close to tears. The characters are exceptionally well developed, the voice of the protagonist, Holling, in particular is very defined (I swear I could pick Holling out in any book I read, even years later) and the themes are powerful and deep. The book is not very plot driven so don’t expect any shocking revelations or high speed car chases, but what the book does offer is a peek into the life of a boy living in the 1960’s, a school story, yet in some ways, much more. In that aspect it does not disappoint, the book feels genuine, as if the author spent hours carefully crafting every page and the humor is killer. I would recommend this books for all ages. It is a timeless piece that can be enjoyed by both children and adults.
- Age: 7-99
- Awards: Newbery Honor
- Stars: Five out of Five
Written by Malachi Myers