Title: Write This Down
Author: Claudia Mills
Rating: ★★★ 1/2
Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Autumn loves to write. She finds inspiration all around her, especially in Cameron, the dreamy boy in her journalism class who she has a major crush on. Then her older brother, Hunter, who used to watch out for her but has grown distant since he started high school, reads one of her poems about Cameron to Cameron’s older brother. They make fun of it and she is devastated. Determined to show her brother how talented she really is, Autumn decides that she is going to become a published author – now! She writes an essay about her changing relationship with her brother, enters it in a contest, and wins, and her dream of publication is within reach. But if her essay is published, everyone will know her family’s secrets. Is being published worth hurting those you love?
Huge thank you to Raincoast/Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) for this ARC!
Write This Down is one of those middle grade novels that has a lot of great ideas, but it also is lacking as well. It deals with our heroine, Autumn, who wants to become a famous writer, and who actually writes down what she knows and sees. It’s to the point where she begins to write about her family, particularly the boy she has a crush on and the “sudden changes” in her older brother, Hunter.
One thing this book does incredibly well is that it builds on all the relationships in Autumn’s life. It’s a short book and yet I felt like I knew a lot about the different characters that she was interacting with, and Mills does an amazing job of giving us a larger picture as to what is going on between Autumn and her brother Hunter. I also want to applaud how much I loved the way Autumn and Kylee’s friendship was portrayed — it was so sweet and yet there were times when I wanted to smack Autumn and remind her how good she has it with that girl!
However, there was one thing about this book that felt very strange to me: Mills makes a lot of references to Emily Dickson and a lot of older forms of media presence, but this novel doesn’t establish when it all actually takes place? While I like the way Emily Dickson is used in the novel, I wonder with a lot of younger readers if her being referenced might go completely over their heads, or potentially encourage readers to investigate who she is. I question if Autumn can be a character that middle graders reading this novel now would be able to easily connect with or not. It’s tough to say.
I think this novel bursts with a lot of creativity and I think readers who are creative people will find lots to love about Write This Down. While I think a lot of stuff in this novel referenced feels a bit old, I won’t deny that at times I found it very charming. This novel is heartfelt and well developed, and overall I found it to be a sweet, quick little read.