Title: The Best Worst Thing
Author: Kathleen Lane
Rating: ★★★ 1/2
Synopsis: Maggie is worried. She’s starting middle school, and she suddenly sees injustice and danger everywhere–in her history textbook, on the playground, in her neighborhood, on the news. How can anyone be safe when there’s a murderer on the loose, a bully about to get a gun for his twelfth birthday, rabbits being held captive for who-knows-what next door, and an older sister being mysteriously consumed by adolescence? Maggie doesn’t like any of it, so she devises intricate ways of controlling her own world–and a larger, more dangerous plan for protecting everyone else.
Huge thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada for this ARC!
I’m not sure what I was getting into when I requested The Best Worst Thing. If I’m being honest after finishing the book, this was a bit of an odd duck, but in a good way. It has a very unique writing style and Maggie’s voice is very distinctive. As she begins to grow up and mature she begins to see a world of danger and injustice — she’s terrified. There’s a murderer out on the loose, the rabbits next door are being held prisoner, and she is struggling to accept the fact that she is growing up.
The writing style at times threw me off a bit. It felt a bit challenging for a middle grade story, and the subject matters, though important, sometimes read a little awkwardly. I get that the book is showcasing anxiety and looks at the realities of life and growing up, but part of me felt very disconnected from Maggie, something I think I shouldn’t have been feeling. I felt like she was somewhat distanced from the reader (or maybe that is my impression).
Still, I LOVED what this book represents. It’s a very honest protrayal of middle grade anxiety and attempting to cope with the fact that the world is slowly starting to expand. When you are young you don’t realize a lot of what is going on in the world, let around what is even around you, and The Best Worst Thing captures these emotions and discomforts exceptionally well. You feel the tenseness of Maggie’s feelings, you see that she is struggle with the idea of growing up. I felt for her, I really did.
And I think, of anything, that is why this book needs to be read. While I had trouble connecting with the writing, I think the themes and story itself are very valuable to middle grade readers out there who are still learning about what it means to grow up. There’s no manual for it, and even when you become an adult, there’s no hard-and-fast rule to be an adult either. Maggie’s struggle of life changing dynamics and discomforts — they aren’t new and they are something we shouldn’t be ignoring either. Definitely worth investing if you like more realistic middle grade reads.