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Merci Suárez Changes Gears

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  191 Ratings  ·  91 Reviews
Thoughtful, strong-willed sixth-grader Merci Suarez navigates difficult changes with friends, family, and everyone in between in a resonant new novel from Meg Medina.

Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 11th 2018 by Candlewick Press
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Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, netgalley
3.5 stars roundup
A middle grade novel with plenty of heart, Merci Suarez Changes Gears is the kind of novel that young readers with large extended family will gravitate towards. Heartwarming is not a word I use too often in my reviews, but it is certainly warranted in regards to this book. Like Merci, I was close to my grandparents and even lived with my paternal grandparents for a time when I was a teenager. I loved the author's note too.
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sixth grade is a tough year for every child. As a scholarship student at an expensive academy, it's even tougher for Merci Suarez. Not only does she have to learn to endure middle school where she doesn't always feel she fits in with her classmates, but she also has to start growing up and facing changes. Not just changes in herself, but changes in her family as well. Her brother is getting ready to leave for college and her grandfather is showing symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. It's a time of ...more
Wendi Lee
Merci hates change, but sixth grade means other kids are starting to act differently (why are the girls giggling around the boys). She’s paired with a new boy in the Sunshine Club, which gives mean girl Edna ammunition to tease Merci relentlessly. And then there’s Merci’s grandfather, Lolo, who is changing in ways that none of Merci’s family wants to talk about.

I loved this middle grade novel, which perfectly captures what it feels like to be a tween in a large extended family, maneuvering thro
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved every minute of my time with Merci and her family a large loving multi-generational family facing the changes in Merci's beloved Lolo, the person in the family who seems to understand her the most. Merci and her brother are the scholarship kids at their private school and she often feels like an outsider, especially around an overbearing classmate. But she holds her own. There is lots of spanish naturally interspersed in this book as it is in Merci's life. Her teachers are demanding but ...more
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: by-and-about-poc
Captures the essence of middle school perfectly: the troubles of fitting in among, the frustration of butting heads with your parents, puberty and the confusing aspects of people around you developing crushes and acting weird. It also tackles classism and the experience of being poor in an environment where everyone else is rich and the alienation that comes with it. I loved or loved to hate the characters and watching Merci grow was satisfying.
Alex (not a dude) Baugh
Eleven-year-old Cuban American Merci Suárez lives in the Palm Beach area of Florida with her parents, and her very smart brother Roli, 17. Right next to them live their Abuela and Abuelo, called Lolo, and right next to them lives Tia Inéz, with her young twins, Axel and Tomás. The three identical houses are affectionately called Las Casitas by Merci's mother.

Roli and Merci are scholarship students at a private school. Since their dad and Lolo are painters, some of their tuition is paid for in wo
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Merci attends a private school by doing "community service." Her friend is jealous of her assignment since Merci is assigned to help the friend's "crush." At the same time, Merci's grandfather Lolo, to whom she is quite close, is declining rapidly due to Alzheimer's Disease, and Merci doesn't really understand what is going on due to the family's decision to keep her in the dark. It's a coming-of-age tale which may appeal to middle school readers at the moment but probably lacks an enduring qual ...more
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved Merci Suarez! Meg Medina captures this transitional (middle grade) age so well - we were just playing with the boys last year, why are they suddenly at their own table and girls are...flirting with them, I guess?!? What gives! Medina tackles a lot of big issues here without overwhelming the reader - Merci’s family isn’t as well-off financially as some of the other kids at her private school, where she and her brother attend on scholarship. Her family is bigger than the typical American f ...more
Beth Honeycutt
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Close to 4.5 stars! I enjoyed getting to know Merci, her family, and friends. I also loved the sprinkling of Spanish throughout the book.
Meira (readingbooksinisrael)
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, contemporary, us, kindle
*I received this book as an ARC but all thoughts and opinions are my own*

This was a good book. Of course, it's from my self proclaimed favorite contemporary genre: MG; Latine-kid-has-life-changes-something-happens-with-grownup-they-rely-on.

My favorite thing was that racism wasn’t the setting of this book. Of course, those experiences are important and real, and should be written about but I think it’s just as important to write stories where that is not the setting-where the characters are deali
I had the opportunity to read a NetGalley digital ARC of this middle grade fiction novel in exchange for this review. This book tells the story of sixth-grader, Merci Suarez, as she navigates the stresses at home and at school. At home, her grandfather keeps acting strangely and forgetting things, which makes it difficult for her family to take care of him and the younger children at the same time. At school, she has to deal with the changing tides of popularity, cliques, and the attention of bo ...more
Adriana Martinez Figueroa
how dare u make me cry :(
--- edited review---
Merci Suarez Changes Gears has become one of my favorites of the year. I'd never read a book by Meg Medina and after finishing the book I sought to remedy it, so I already have Burn Baby Burn at the ready for later.

In this middle grade, Medina explores the life of a sixth grader named Merci  as she has to live a sort-of double life between her Southern Florida elite private school, Seaward Pines Academy, and Las Casitas, home to her Latinx family. Her
Ms. Yingling
Jul 17, 2018 rated it liked it
E ARC from

Merci lives next door to her grandparents, Abuela and Lolo, and her aunt and younger twin cousins. Her father has a house painting company, and she and her older brother Roli go to a fancy private school on scholarship so that they have every opportunity. Merci finds it a bit difficult to deal with her well-t-o-do classmates, especially the snooty Edna, who is one reason that Merci is saving up her money for a fancy new bike. Merci has to be a Sunshine Buddy and is assign
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sixth grade Cuban-American Mercedes “Merci” Suárez lives in South Florida with her family in Las Casitas: three houses, side by side, where Merci lives with her brother, Roli, and their parents; her Abuela and Lolo; and her Tía Inéz and her crazy twin 5-year olds, Axel and Tomás. She and Roli also attend an exclusive private school, Seaward Pines. In order to help pay their tuition, Merci has to take part in Sunshine Buddies, a community service program that matches her with a new student from M ...more
Virginia McGee Butler
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read Merci Saurez Changes Gears by Meg Medina with an awareness of her writing commitment to the idea of both windows and mirrors for all children to see someone like themselves in books and to strengthen understanding for readers who come from a different world. She did this beautifully in her Ezra Jack Keats Award book Tia Isa Wants a Car and in her young adult books that I have read. In this new book which makes its debut September 11, the windows and mirrors seem to shapeshift as sixth-gra ...more
Kelly Hager
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Merci's life is very family-centric. Part of that is her choice (she loves her family, especially her grandparents) and part of that is the fact that she lives next door to her grandparents and two doors down from her aunt and twin cousins. (They are more than a handful and Merci has to babysit them a lot.) It's not that Merci minds babysitting them so much; it's more that it's expected of her and it also gets in the way of things she wants to do (like try out for soccer). 

Another unfortunate th
There is something about middle school books and mean girls that just go together. And this book is no exception. But Merci is more than just another protagonist, fighting the good fight against the mean girls of the world. She is also a Cuban-American, who is living with her extended family in Florida, with her beloved grandparents, aunt, and twin cousins.

I love how tight she is with her family, that she cares about them. That she wants to do right by them, despite not liking watching the twin
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: good-read-alouds
I loved, loved, loved, loved this book. I am so honored and glad to have won the ARC in a giveaway, because I’m not sure I would have read it otherwise.

Meg Medina had her finger on the pulse of the middle school experience. It’s rare to find a book I felt properly represented what middle school was essentially like, but Merci Suarez Changes Gears nailed it. There were group project struggles (I can relate), low-key rivalries, a budding social structure, and more. It felt like going back to si
Debbie Tanner
I really enjoyed this story about Merci, who lives with her extended family in Palm Beach County, Florida (my hometown!). She's struggling with middle school (a private one that she attends on scholarship), her friends there (there's a relentless bully), boys, and her family-her big brother who is super smart and on his way to college, her young cousins (who are hilarious) and her grandfather who is suffering from Alzheimers. The characters in this one are terrific and I was really sorry when I ...more
Michele Knott
So much love for this book. I think a lot of middle grade readers will want to be friends with Merci.
Halli Gomez
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Merci Suarez Changes Gears is one of my new favorite middle grade books. It has everything I think is important for all ages: an interesting story, characters you feel deeply about, and issues that affect us all.

Having lived in Miami, Florida for almost forty years, I loved being involved in Merci’s Latin family. The family life, food, and culture was woven seamlessly into the story, it’s almost like I was part of her family.

This story covers many important issues while keeping the wonderful c
Robert Kent
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Do you love a great coming-of-age tale featuring a memorable character who's all too easy to relate to, Esteemed Reader? If so, Merci Suárez Changes Gears will truly change the gears of your heart. Did that metaphor work? No? Forget it, let's keep going.

Make sure you find your way back here on Wednesday as we'll have the great fortune to be joined by author Meg Medina who will be the next distinguished author to face the 7 Questions, and she will change the gears of your writer's mind. So don't
Psyche Ready
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful middle-grade novel! I strongly recommend this to those working with MG and YA readers, and those looking for books with characters of color and/or strong female protagonists, and anyone who loves a good kid’s book about a happy family trying to get through difficult times. Contains discussion of Alzheimer’s.
I absolutely love Merci Suarez—she is as clever, courageous, stubborn and as spunky as my favorite female protags from over the years—Anne of Green Gables, Harriet the Spy, a
Sunday Cummins
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“What a kid wants is not part of the formula, as usual, not here and not anywhere.” – Merci

Medina has created a beautiful story about a young girl (6th grade) exploring the complexities of relationships, trying to establish for herself and for others who she is or who she is becoming in an ever-evolving web of family and the intricate network of friends (today, but not tomorrow; tomorrow, but not today) at school.

There are so many points in this book – quotes that I think are worthy of student-
Kelly Zemaitis
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: diverse-books, 2018
Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

Note: My professional goal for this year is to read 50+ diverse books. As I attempt to read and review these books, I will be answering the following questions for each book:

Brief plot summary
Merci is a sixth grader in her second year at a private school. Merci and her brother are scholarship students and do not have as much money as the other students. Not only does she have challenges at school, her grandfather is also starting to act different at home
Monica Edinger
Lovely spot-on middle grade featuring a close extended Cuban-American family, a realistic middle school, and a warm story. Merci is a delightful character to spend time with along with her friends and family.
Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina has earned all the starred reviews: Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, Horn Book… What do you add when a book has earned all the stars and all the words you want to hear about when considering a contemporary novel for young readers?

Merci Suarez Changes Gears really does have all the things you want and need—and it doesn’t read in a contrived/formulaic way. You will be moved and entertained. You’ll fall in love with Merci
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
Merci’s life starts to really change during sixth grade. She doesn’t fit in at her private school with the other kids, mostly because she is a scholarship student. Her brother Roli seems to be able to fit in naturally thanks to his love of science. As part of her community service for the school, Merci is a Sunshine Buddy. When she is paired with a boy to guide around school, Merci is shocked but opinionated Edna is bothered by how much time and contact Merci now has with the new cute and popula ...more
Entering sixth grade is tricky enough on its own for Merci Suarez, yet she is dealing with other difficult issues, too. Edna Santos, rich and privileged, is snooty to Merci given the fact the Merci and her brother Roli are at their private school tuition free. Edna's jealousy is compounded when Merci is paired with popular, handsome Michael Clark as her Sunshine Buddy.

However, the biggest change in the Suarez family is Lolo's rapid decline into Alzheimer Disease. At first, Merci doesn't realize
Oct 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Eleven-year-old Merci and her older brother Roli are scholarship students at a posh private school in Florida, and that means they must work extra community service hours and earn good grades. Roli is smart, but Merci has to work for her grades, and she is still trying to figure out friendships at her school. She's been there for a year but she still feels very out of place. And then there’s Edna, the popular girl who was friendly to Merci last year as her school buddy, but has become down right ...more
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I'm Meg Medina, Latina author of libros for kids of all ages. I'm about strong girls, tough circumstances, and the connecting power of culture. I am the author of several picture books, middle grade books, and young adult novels, including Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, which is currently being optioned for Hulu.

I have been honored with the Pura Belpré award twice, an Ezra Jack Keats award