Clare Cannon's Reviews > 13 Gifts

13 Gifts by Wendy Mass
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's review
Nov 28, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: 13-15yrs, 08-12yrs
Recommended for: 9-14 years (girls)
Read from November 27 to 29, 2011

Wow... started off good, and then got better! After just finishing Finally it took me a while to accommodate myself to a few new characters and an altogether new storyline, but overall I really like that each book in this series focuses on a different character. Those from previous books are still around - and are impressively consistent with their former appearances - and it's interesting to see them from another perspective.

Each of the tween/young teen characters is quite different, but all are going through that arduous journey of growing up.

Tara is the star of this story, and the first half of the book helps us to get to know her. She likes to 'live on the sidelines', lacking the confidence and motivation to be part of the main game. She doesn't have many friends, partly because her parents need to move house every other year. The relationship between Tara and her parents (especially her mother) is ok, but not great.

When Tara is sent to Willow Falls for the summer as 'punishment' for attempting to steal a teacher's stuffed animal (it's a long story) her life is forever changed for the better.

As she has in all of the books, the mysterious Angelina appears once again to help sort out the 'life priorities' of a young teen, but again the lessons are not heavy handed and manage to be both deep and lots of fun. In fact, for the first half of the story I wondered where it was going, which only heightened the impact when everything came together at the end.

There's a little more young love implied in this story than in the previous ones - 13 is just that little bit older than 12 - but it is wisely kept at the very early 'friendship' stage.

Young readers will find plenty to gush about - movie stars who show themselves to be good friends, characters who love dancing and performing, the light-hearted dramas of teen friendships and more... but this is all wound through a highly worthwhile story about learning to notice the needs of others rather than being too self-centred, and making a positive difference in their lives.

I'm really looking forward to the next one - I wonder if it will be about Grace...?
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