Samantha Sander, Book 2
Juvenile Fiction (ages 8-12)
is an independent, resourceful, high-tech cheerleader. She dreams of becoming an award-winning journalist like her mother, so she's always looking for articles she can publish in her middle-school paper (where she secretly hopes to become editor). And with a police officer for a father, Sam is in no short supply of writing material.
WHAT IF GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF A MYSTERY
MEANS LEARNING HOW TO LOVE YOUR ENEMY?
As Samantha and the rest of the middle schoolers prepare for the upcoming Spring Fest, "mean girl" Nikki faces the reality that her parents are getting divorced. Samantha has a hard time sympathinzing--Nikki has never been very nice to anyone, let alone Samantha.
But when Nikki becomes victim of a string of attacks, Sam uses her super-sleuth abilities to get to the bottom of the bullying. After all, articles on bullying are just what the school paper needs, instead of all that silly fluff like popularity tips. Samantha enlists the help of her tech-savvy BFF, Makayla, but while the two track down clues, they leave a trail of trouble behind-and may even be responsible for the break-in of their very own school's computer lab!
There is so much to like about this book and this series. Samantha is an overly curious seventh grader that just has a knack for stumbling onto mysteries. This time the mystery revolves around who is bullying her frenemy, Nikki.
The bullying isn't lightweight. It is seriously mean and very realistic. Nikki receives notes saying that she's fat. She receives a package in the mail containing diet pills. The saddest part is that Nikki's parents have split up and are headed for a divorce. Samantha inadvertently finds out about the nasty notes and makes it her mission to find out who's behind them.
As the story goes along other themes are introduced. Loving your enemy. Honesty and sticking to your word. Making decisions that impact others. The book is just full of great life lessons. One of the side stories that I really liked was Samantha's mother's career decision. I enjoyed seeing it from both Samantha and her parents point of view.
In all honesty there was only one point that just rubbed me the wrong way. Samantha's best friend Makayla is repeatedly threatened with being pulled out of public school and being homeschooled. It is presented as if it is a punishment. It didn't add to the story and as a homeschooling family I felt like it was derogatory to the home educating community.
Even with the above issue I would recommend this to anyone with a spunky tween girl in their life. Samantha is a good role model and the story lines in this series are ones that reflect a belief in God and a strong sense of doing what is right because it is expected. As a parent I appreciate the way Samantha's parents are portrayed. They are completely different people but they love each other and are very involved in their daughter's life.
At the very back of the book are discussion questions. They are thought provoking and would make great conversation starters to discuss the book with your daughter. This is also a book that would be wonderful for a tween book club.
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