Book Reviews, Middle Grades, Realistic Fiction
Leave a comment

The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick

In this series opener, four sixth-grade girls discover that reading the classics can change contemporary attitudes.

mother daughter club

The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick.  Simon & Shuster, 2007, 236 pp.

Reading Level: Middle Grade, 10-12

Recommended for: ages 11-13 (especially girls)

Sixth grade is not starting well for Emma Hawthorne, who’s wearing hand-me-downs as usual; or Jess Delaney, whose mom left for New York City to start an acting career; or Cassidy Sloan, the new girl from California whose her father was recently killed in an accident.  Megan Wong, on the other hand, is doing fine—from her secure place within the Fab Four, the in-girl gang led by Becca Chadwick, she can survey life from a lofty perch.  But life will get worse for all four girls when Emma’s mom suggests they form a book club—with their mothers.  The book will be Little Women, in honor of Louisa May Alcott who wrote the book in their very own home town of Concord, Massachusetts.  The mothers, as it happens, have as many personality adjustments to make as the girls, and by December it’s not going well.  “Our book club is in peril here,” worries Mrs. Hawthorne.  “We’re a community, and a community only works if it’s based on trust and respect.”

Though the idea for The Mother-Daughter Book Club is one all book-lovers will cheer, the execution is somewhat flawed.  This realistic fiction seems less than realistic, when Jess’ mom wins a starring role in a soap opera on her first tryout, Cassidy’s mom just happens to be a world-famous ex-supermodel, and Megan attracts the notice of a top NYC fashion designer on her first trip to the city at age 12.  More realistic are the mean tricks played by the Fab Four, and the excruciating embarrassment kids can experience at this age.  Certain attitudes are a problem, like Megan’s fury when “my stupid mother’s signed me up for some stupid book club.”  Even the grownups have too much fun at the expense of Mrs. Chadwick’s large derriere, though Becca’s mom is easy to mock: a cartoon image of a snooty, perpetually-outraged mother hen.  But life is a process, and these girls will mellow over the series—even Becca will join the book club by volume three. Girls who like school stories and series books should find the seven volumes of The Mother-Daughter Book Club a pleasant summer diversion, with no language, sex, or violence issues.  (See below for list of titles, with book club selections.  Please note: we haven’t read all of them and can’t comment on possible objections.)

Other books by this author: Absolutely Truly

Cautions: Character Issues (bad attitudes, mostly addressed as the girls mature)

Overall Rating: 3.75 (out of 5)

  • Worldview/moral value: 4
  • Artistic value: 3.5

Categories: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Character Qualities

(Cover image from Barnes & Noble)

FURTHER TITLES IN THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB SERIES:

Much Ado About Anne (in 7th grade the girls read Anne of Green Gables)

Dear Pen Pal (in 8th grade the girls connect with another book club in Wyoming and read Daddy Long Legs)

Pies and Prejudice (for 9th grade, it’s–well, you know)

Home for the Holidays (10th-grade book-clubbers go through the Betsy-Tacy series)

Wish You Were Eyre (high school juniors resonate with Jane Eyre)

The Mother-Daughter Book Camp (just graduated, the girls introduce the joys of book clubbing to junior campers with Understood Betsy)

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *