This post has been awhile coming, especially now that I’ve completed all three books in this series. I completely powered through this series, and I want to share why I think Clarissa Delaney’s story is worth looking into.
1) This series is proudly Canadian, and if you are a Canadian reading it, then you get to play the “I KNOW WHERE THAT IS!” game, and I like that Vikki VanSickle doesn’t change the story to be somewhere else. Toronto, as described by Clarissa, does feel like it’s own character at times, and I like that.
2) Clarissa completely acts her age. Middle grade is such an hard area to write, especially in terms of contemporary fictions. Here is where we get all the growing pains, and Clarissa has her fair share of them… on top of the fact that her mother is diagnosed with cancer. This is a tough age group to have dealing with that type of crisis, and I like that Vikki never, ever shies away at this being a difficult subject matter. Clarissa responses the way any seventh grader would — scared, but wanting to understand as best as possible.
3) Clarissa is wonderfully sassy, kinda bratty, and knows how to speak her mind — in fact, the girl comes across fearless at times… well, until Michael shows up. Then she’s tongue-tied! But seriously, I appreciate having a heroine in a story who is able to articulate her feelings in such a way where you understand where she’s coming from. When Doug enters the picture in Love is a Four-Letter Word, Clarissa’s response to him, though horrific, makes perfect sense. You have a man who wants to be a part of her life, but with no father to look towards, how do you accept someone new to possibly attempt to fulfil that roll? I actually loved Clarissa’s interactions with Doug, and he got a lot of my sympathy in books two and three.
4) Benji will make you grin. No seriously, the kid is brilliant, ridiculous and loveable. He easily will steal your heart and he has some of the best moments in this series. Especially all of Love is a Four-Letter Word. No really, go read it and see what I mean.
5) These books teach wonderful lessons without beating a younger reader over the head. This series is loveable in so many ways — there’s well crafted characters, some gut-punching yet touching moments, secrets that will keep the reader guessing (especially in Days That End in Y), and it’s so easy to fall in love with Clarissa’s voice. It’s distinctive, but has the right amount of innocence to it. That is to say, Vikki VanSickle does an amazing job of making contemporary middle grade feel accessible, something we can relate to, and still pack a ton of feels in each book, from start to finish.