Book Review : Eight Keys

Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur August 2011. (ARC)

Since middle school started, Elise’s happy life has turned rocky.  She doesn’t know what to do about her best friend, Franklin; all his talk of “playing” and “pretend”—which had seemed such great fun just last summer—now makes her feel embarrassed in front of the girls in her class.  Her locker partner belittles and bullies her.  Elise is having trouble with her homework and is falling behind in school.

Even her home life has changed.  Since her parents died when she was very young, Elise has enjoyed her life with Aunt Bessie and Uncle Hugh in a big house with a big barn that her uncle uses as a workshop.  But now her aunt’s sister and niece are moving in, too—and Elise just doesn’t see what is so wonderful about that.

Elise is confused about her feelings toward her family and her friend, Franklin—but she is especially confused about who she is and who she is becoming.

Then one day, while musing in her uncle’s workshop, Elise sees a key.  The key is hanging on a string on the wall, and it has a tag.  The tag says:  Elise.  On the second floor of the barn are eight rooms with locked doors.  Could this key open up those doors?  If so, what will she find in those locked rooms?

I very much enjoyed LaFleur’s quiet coming-of-age novel.  Middle school is a confusing time for kids, and Elise’s troubles are common among her peers.  Elise’s discoveries and her new understandings of family and friendship make Eight Keys not only a great book for girls but also a good read-aloud and class discussion starter.

Blogger:  Tracey L