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The Best Worst Thing

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  417 ratings  ·  118 reviews
A simply told, deeply riveting and perceptive debut novel that strikes a universal chord by exploring what it's like to be a 10 year-old who doesn't feel ready to grow up and leave childhood behind.

Maggie is worried.

She's starting middle school, and she suddenly sees injustice and danger everywhere--in her history textbook, on the playground, in her neighborhood, on the ne
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 3.45  · 
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 ·  417 ratings  ·  118 reviews

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Ms. Yingling
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Maggie is already worried about many things, but after a convenience store clerk is shot and killed at a store near her home, she becomes even more anxious. She worries about her father being killed when he is at work, frets about things that could go wrong at school, and becomes obsessed with the rabbits a neighbor is raising. She eventually decides she needs to free the rabbits, since they are being sold for food. Her sister is a teenager and becoming mor
Suzy Vitello
Apr 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Maggie is starting middle school. She's also the middle daughter in a family with changing dynamics.

This wonderful book unfolds through the eyes and heart of a young, sensitive girl whose anxiety propels her, eventually, to undertake an act of bravery.

Maggie's voice is on point, honest, and authentic. The rushing thoughts, the preoccupation with death, the need to respond to events in an increasingly complex world - all of the particular traits of a young girl facing a new world.

This is the typ
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
I received an ARC from the publisher via work, with no obligation to leave a personal review.

So, I expected to love this book, because I usually fare well when I foray into middle grade, and I really am passionate about the value of a solid middle grade book. That age is so impressionable, and while many trending YA books are fun to read, I don't know that anyone will still care about the vast majority of them ten, or even five, years from now. But a great middle grade novel, that can be forever
Kate Hastings
I didn't finish this book. I found the narrator's constant worrying very exhausting to read. I might have had a little too much in common with her and might have gone through years of therapy to stop! :)
Margaret Malone
Sep 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Do you remember what it's like, what it's really like, to be this age? Because author Kathleen Lane does. She writes about what is REALLY going on in a child's mind at this hard in-between age. This is exactly the kind of book middle-graders need to know is out there and accessible to them.

Maggie's anxieties are so real and flawlessly observed, they help us remember how challenging this transition time can be for kids. The Best Worst Thing creates such a rich, full inner and outer life for its
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2016
"I feel like the world is about to end and I'm the only one who knows it. I'm the only one who can save us."

Maggie has secret routines to keep everyone and everything safe. When there is a robbery up the street and the suspect is at large she has a litany that she goes through to keep her family safe. When Mr. Gullick seems uncaring about the baby rabbits he is raising, Maggie jumps into action to help them. And then there's Gordy: "Mom told us one time that when people act big it's because they
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a very hard book to read because of the realistic and stream of consciousness style of presenting Maggie's thoughts. I found my heart beating faster as I read through all of Maggie's checks and re-checks.

Maggie worries. A lot. About everything. And these worries are much more than the usual starting middle school worries. She worries that horrible things are going to happen to her family. She needs to keep everyone safe by performing certain rituals such as repeating everything twice, m
Aileen Ryu
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is about a girl named Maggie who has an older sister named Tana, a younger sister named Polly, and a dad who almost never comes home. Maggie has just started middle school and does get worried about a lot of things. There is a murderer in her neighborhood, her friend doesn't play with her anymore, and she has lots of other problems. Whenever she gets worried, she counts. but one day she decides to save rabbits before someone gets a gun the day after. The rabbits are going to be killed by he ...more
Jennie Koh
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
When eleven-year-old Thyme Owens’ little brother, Val, is accepted into a new cancer drug trial, it’s just the second chance that he needs. But it also means the Owens family has to move to New York, thousands of miles away from Thyme’s best friend and everything she knows and loves. The island of Manhattan doesn’t exactly inspire new beginnings, but Thyme tries to embrace the change for what it is: temporary.
After Val’s treatment shows real promise and Mr. Owens accepts a full-time position in
Jan 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. I did not enjoy being trapped in Maggie's head. Her anxiety was overwhelming. But maybe that's the point. And likely a middle school student reading this book would have a totally different viewpoint than me. I'd be curious to compare notes with a young reader.
Dec 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
Maggie is starting middle school and is getting more and more worried. She has rules to live by that keep the people she loves safe, but there is much more to worry about than that. There is the murderer who was loose in their neighborhood after shooting someone at a local mini mart. There is the boy at school who is going to get a gun for his birthday. There are the rabbits next door owned by a man who doesn’t seem to really love them. Plus there are issues in her own family with a teen sister ...more
Fontaine Roberson
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As the mom of young girls who are avid readers, I’m always looking for meaningful books that will interest them. This honest story of a young girl navigating the transition from childhood to adolescence is one I’ll definitely be sharing with my girls.

Maggie Alder is an anxious child, with worries ranging from death (her own and her family’s) to the fate of a neighbor’s pet rabbits, and after a clerk is shot and killed at a store near her home, her anxiety grows even bigger.

Overwhelmed by her fea
Oct 26, 2016 rated it liked it
I picked up an ARC of this little book because the cover art is gorgeous.
And I'll be honest, I was halfway through it before I started enjoying it.
But once I got into it, the ending snuck up on me.

Our narrator Maggie is a young girl who some might consider "totally weird," and it's implied that she has OCD or some sort of anxiety disorder. With a mom struggling to keep the family together, a dad who's rarely home, her older sister Tana in the throes of puberty, and her younger sister Polly feedi
Kate Puleo Unger
I enjoyed this book. Maggie is starting middle school. She is dealing with normal things: social hierarchy at a new school, friends who are interested in make up and clothes, her siblings (one younger, one older), the tension between her parents, etc. But at the same time she has extreme anxiety. A murderer has been spotted in the neighborhood, and she's convinced he's going to come and kill her family. A boy in her class who lives two houses over is rumored to be getting a gun for his 12th birt ...more
Gigi Little
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was in love with Maggie, the smart, curious, beautifully-neurotic narrator of Kathleen Lane's debut middle reader, from page one. With her infectious voice and unique way of looking at the world, she's a girl I find completely engaging as an adult reader and would have felt such a kinship with as a child. Lane seems to understand perfectly just how full of anxiety, and equally full of wonder, the world is when you're Maggie's age. And she presents this world to us in a voice that's breathless ...more
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The opening chapter of this book is so clever and good. It grabs you right away and puts you into the head of Maggie, an anxious girl who is just starting middle school. Maggie's voice is so true to how I remember myself at that age and how confusing it was to be at that stage in life where you are a little reluctant to grow up and leave childhood behind. Kathleen's prose is spare and beautiful and she really makes you feel what it's like to be anxious about starting a new school, anxious about ...more
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Maggie just started middle school--and if that wasn't tough enough, she also struggles with extreme anxiety and some OCD tendencies. After a murder is committed in her neighborhood and she discovers something disturbing about her neighbor, these issues become even more extreme. It was frustrating that Maggie's family didn't seem to notice her struggles...they all just seemed annoyed by it. Her repeating mantras often interrupted the narrative, much like they interrupted Maggie's every day life. ...more
Cara Ungar-Gutierrez
Aug 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is beautiful, sweet, scary, unsettling. It's true. That's what I love about the way Kathleen Lane writes. Every story, just like this one, strikes me as so deeply true.

The novel is compelling, wonderfully written. Characters are engaging. I love the way you can be with the protagonist and still not know if you're experiencing "real" or 'dream." And in a way it doesn't even matter. Because the reader is pretty much just swept up into the experience of this 11-year old amazingness of a
Adam Strong
Aug 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sentence by sentence, one of the best books I've ever read. Written in beautifully pared down prose, Kathleen Lane's sentences underline the continual anxiety the narrator Maggie experiences. A local criminal is loose which acts as a springboard for the rest of the story. The rest of the story is the mystery of the larger world awaiting her. The tension, the anxiety, it's all there on every page.

Sure it's labeled as a middle year reader, because that's the age of the narrator, but who wouldn't f
Aug 29, 2016 rated it liked it
*** 1/2

Took me a while to get into Maggie's voice and I found her anxiety to cause me anxiety. Is this really for a middle grade reader? It's well-written but I think a more mature reader would do better with it. I had hoped to give this to my 10yo niece when I'm done but I think it would just compound the anxieties she already feels and not reduce them. Once I got into a groove with this I liked it a lot and I'm looking forward to seeing what Lane writes next but as much as I wanted to love th
Green Bean
Mar 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Kathleen Lane so accurately captures the reeling mind of an anxious child in her main character, Maggie. From the obsessive ruminating to the daily rituals designed to control, Maggie's story is a much needed exploration of the anxious mind of a middle grader that many will relate with and find an emotional connection. I can't wait to share this one with others!
Nov 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Word of advice, read this book slowly. 11 year old Maggie has so much anxiety and obsessions that it can be hard to follow her obsessed and anxious thoughts.
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was ok

I respected The Best Worst Thing by Kathleen Lane but I thought that it had no originality and had a similar concept to any other book. Maggie is starting middle school just after a murderer shot someone up the street. Also, she hears that her neighbor Gordy Morgan is getting a gun for his birthday, which is weeks away. To add on, she finds out that something could happen to the bunnies behind her house. Then when Maggie starts school her friends start changing and she doesn’t feel safe anymore
Nov 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Note: ARC received via Amazon Vine.

The Best Worst Thing is the type of book that doesn't quite have a happy ending but also sort of doesn't end. Kathleen Lane's book does, however, reflect a bit of what it's like to be entering middle school and have anxiety issues. Maggie's world is fairly small with lots of little things going on and a few big ones, too. The writing is more stream of consciousness in feel than I would have liked which makes the overarching story feel directionless at times. Re
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Quick read, stream of consciousness writing. Middle grade book.

The contrast between this book and "some kind of happiness" (which I also read this weekend) is HUGE, though the narrators/main characters in the two books are only a year apart in age. This book's star, Maggie, is worried about everything and has a number of rituals she does as part of her coping. As a character, Maggie reads really young to me.

There are some interesting moments/reflections in terms of Maggie's friendships with othe
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It was a very quick read. The main problem I have with this book is that it left a lot of questions unanswered at the end. Like what was the deal with Maggie's Dad? And, personally, I would like to know more about Gordy. Recommend to middle grade students who enjoyed Hidden by Helen Frost.

Questions to ask students
What number did Maggie count to?
What did Maggie write on the apple she threw to Gordy?
What "mean" thing did Maggie write in the note about Cynthia?
Apr 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Maggie is authentic, spirited and transforming. As the middle daughter she has to learn to let go of childhood and carefully navigate middle school. Friendships change, attitudes change and feelings get hurt. Maggie although still friends with her childhood bestie Kelsey, has realized they are becoming very different. I found a very powerful statement on page 55 "Kelsey's acting pretty. Before it was just how she looked, now it's like her personality." Many young girls will certainly recognize t ...more
Dec 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016, juv-fic
Maggie is 11 and anxious about pretty much everything. She's just beginning middle school and finding it a bit confusing to navigate friendship when some girls are growing up faster than others and the whole mean girls thing is starting. Its a glimpse at that age, no super easy "everything's suddenly perfect" ending and a good look into the mind of a child trying to cope in the only way she knows.
Krista Fitzpatrick
This book would be great for kids who have some anxieties. The main character is a girl who worries, worries about the rabbits her neighbor next door keeps, worries about the boy who has a bad family situation a few doors down, worries about her parents and their marital situation,... This story shows how everything always works out in the end and how realizing that not being able to control every situation is OK.
Ryan Reed
Jan 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
The opening line of this Juvenile Fiction is “It’s the night we’re going to get murdered so we’re sleeping on the living room floor.” When I read this, I knew that I was going to have to finish the book. I was delighted by Lane’s story. It drops you right back into the fears and anxieties of childhood in a truly honest and engaging manner. I very much enjoyed the tone and the cadence of the prose and I will seek out more work by Kathleen Lane.
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Kathleen Lane lives in Portland, Oregon, where she writes, teaches, and cohosts the art and literary event series SHARE.

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