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Next to Mexico

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When Lylice found out she was skipping fifth grade, she was excited. Then nervous. Then excited again. Then terrified. On her first day of sixth grade everything bad that could happen did. But when Senora Schwartz assigned her to be Mexico Mendoza’s English Buddy, school got a little better. Then a lot better. Then not as better. Then much, much worse.

This is the story of her first quarter at Susan B. Anthony Middle School. And it’s the story of how to get away with something that grownups will first not like, then, after they think about it, won’t mind. And will actually think was a good idea. Oh, and it’s about doing something so stupid because of a boy and worrying that your best friend will ever talk to you again.

224 pages, Hardcover

First published August 25, 2008

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Jennifer Nails

1 book1 follower

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5 stars
28 (36%)
4 stars
24 (31%)
3 stars
22 (28%)
2 stars
3 (3%)
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Displaying 1 - 26 of 26 reviews
Profile Image for Jessica .
96 reviews1 follower
November 29, 2018
For it being a book that I randomly picked up from the Shelf, it was okay. To be honest when I read this book it felt like I've read it before, but I love drama and strong female roles. .
Middle School drama, strong female role. I liked Lylice and Mexico characters and I can definitely relate to Mexico..
Profile Image for Rebecca Reeder.
273 reviews11 followers
October 1, 2018
This book deserves more attention. The female protagonist and and her school friend, an English-language learner, are the type of characters and situations that are current news. There are plenty of situations that a classroom teacher could use to engage classes in thoughtful discussion.
Profile Image for Jill.
774 reviews
July 13, 2010
Like I said in my status, I just chose this book from the library because they had it displayed and I liked the cover. Reading the inside jacket made it sound like it was going to be really bad, but actually it wasn't as bad as I'd expected!

This was one of the million "eccentric girl" stories out there. So it wasn't super original - I've already read Stargirl... Emma-Jean Lazarus... A Crooked Kind of Perfect... on and on. Don't get me wrong though - I appreciate that authors are writing about strong female characters, although they are "weird" compared to their peers. I'd rather read these books than ones about beautiful popular girls. These books send better messages to their readers.

Anyway, nice story. Some middle school drama, as was to be expected. The author tackled several heavy topics, but I think she did it well. There was some unnecessary language though, so I'd be hesitant to use it in a classroom. But I'd still recommend it to a kid!
Profile Image for Jennifer Wardrip.
Author 6 books479 followers
November 18, 2012
Reviewed by hoopsielv for TeensReadToo.com

Lylice is an eccentric girl who is skipping a grade and going straight into sixth. Is she ready for the changes that middle school brings? After all, her best friend last year was the elementary principal!

She is assigned to be Mexico Mendoza's English buddy. The girls soon realize that although they have their differences, they can find common ground. Lylice feels that Principal Harrington has it in for her, and both girls fight together to keep the art programs in their school.

This is a story of a friendship that is shared between two girls who want desperately to fit in yet hold on to their individuality at the same time. Lylice is full of surprises and, though she seems a bit odd at first, she draws you into her life.

I highly recommend NEXT TO MEXICO.

Profile Image for Carolyn.
785 reviews
December 6, 2016
I think I'm kind of tired of the quirky nerd girl in school stories (at least for now). I really appreciate and love the stories that feature girls that are multidimensional and smart and funny and kind- something I would have needed and loved as a kid. However there are so many stories that feature a precocious main character so this wasn't exactly revolutionary. And I found that I started to get tired of how outspoken Lylice was (probably due to my own quiet girl insecurities). But this is a nice story that features some heavy topics and I really enjoyed how the subject was handled. The story is genuine and fairly realistic so it would be a great read for middle schoolers. I also really liked that the story took place in Arizona- so I knew where some of the Tucson locations were! Overall, a very nice and lovely book.
Profile Image for Franky.
54 reviews2 followers
October 14, 2008
This story took me back to junior high and what it was like to be the girl who didn't quite fit in tight with any particular clique, yet managed to hold her own among her peers, not by ingratiating herself but by being herself. The protagonist of this story wants to do the right thing, make the grade, and be liked, yet she is educated and enlightened enough to refuse to sacrifice her soul to do so. Lylice has the inner confidence (and parental support) to buck convention and stand up for the things she cares about. A brave thing to do in school, where usually no one wants to stand out as different. Lylice learns that people aren't perfect, they make mistakes--herself included--and that understanding leads to forgiveness, which is ultimately the way back to happiness.
Profile Image for Ellie.
584 reviews14 followers
March 29, 2011
Overall sweet story of a girl trying to find her place. Lylice has just skipped fifth grade and is now starting sixth grade with no friends but an excellent capacity for speaking her mind. On the first day of school, she befriends Mexico, a Mexican immigrant who has diabetes and has come to the US to have better access to medical care. Lylice is awkward and lovable. The book deals with a lot of rough family issues (though not within Lylice's family) and doesn't tie up all of the loose ends neatly, which is kind of nice because you really feel like you've just gotten a snapshot into the life of this girl for six months.
Profile Image for Anna Francesca.
257 reviews6 followers
December 21, 2008
This is a sweet coming-of-age story that is generally appropriate for younger readers, although it does have some foul language. This is a portrait of an oddball friendship and has well-drawn, complex characters. Girls will probably enjoy it more than boys, but it isn't exclusively a chick novel.
357 reviews
March 30, 2009
4th-5th I really liked this book. Lylice (rhymes wiht Phyllis) has skipped 5th grade and has very mixed feelings about starting middle school. At first eveything! goes wrong, but after she is assigned to be Mexico's English buddy things get much better. Lulice is a spunky, bright creative girl that doesn't always think through the consequences of her actions which makes for a very amusing book.
Profile Image for Whisper Poet.
Author 2 books7 followers
June 16, 2012
This was a great story of friendship. It deals with several issues, without being preachy. Lylice, who skipped 5th grade, is assigned as Mexico's English Buddy at the beginning of sixth grade. They become fast, best friends and face many issues together during the first quarter of the school year.

Great read for middle school students!
Profile Image for Linda.
1,082 reviews3 followers
December 2, 2015
Lylice has skipped 5th grade and begins her 6th grade year at the middle school. She is assigned to be newcomer Mexico Mendoza’s English buddy. The girls soon become close friends. A nice book about being yourself and fitting in, dealing with diabetes, and other middle school contemporary life drama.
Profile Image for Manny.
167 reviews43 followers
April 29, 2016
This was one of my favorite books growing up, it was also one of the first books I read which dealt with the topic of race, most specifically, Hispanics. As a half blood Hispanic living in a very white world, I really appreciated this book. Its plot is deceivingly simple and its message profound.
Highly recommended.
19 reviews
October 25, 2016
This book is really good. It's about this girl name Lylice who skipped 5th grade. And when she goes to school for 6th grade everything is so different. She was so happy to go to school but she was nervous at the same time she had mix feelings about how shell be in school , it's a really good book ..
Profile Image for Michele.medlin.
72 reviews1 follower
September 3, 2008
What I learned from this book by Michele Laikowski

I learned that Jennifer Nails is an amazing author. I also learned that kids can be talked to and treated as people under her hand.

People around the world, join hands. Start a love train and read this book.

Thank you!
Profile Image for Ginger.
251 reviews1 follower
July 11, 2009
I thought this was a great book. Some folks might find it way too optimistic and might find Lylice a little too smart and a little too good spelled politically correct, but for some reason I couldn't stop reading till the last page was over.
Profile Image for Betsy.
137 reviews
May 11, 2009
Will Lylice find her "nitche" in middle school when she has skipped 5th grade, considered her elementary school principal her best friend and has the courage to think for herself? Perhaps with the encouragement of parents and an immigrant friend named Mexico her feisty spirit will prevail.
Profile Image for Maggie V.
804 reviews10 followers
December 6, 2009
Although one of the characters is from Mexico, I would not call this multicultural or even recommend it to someone looking for Hispanic characters. I guess it was a good book, but I could not get into it.
Profile Image for Hilary Graham.
Author 1 book230 followers
May 23, 2012
Jennifer Nails knows her sixth graders. Lylice is a quirky, authentic heroine chock full of passion. And her travails at Susan B. Anthony Middle School are both hilarious and heartwarming. Nails has a fun, original voice and a great talent at creating rich, nuanced characters.
Profile Image for Hadley.
55 reviews2 followers
April 18, 2009
Could be a great book to start 6th grade
struggle for place in 6th grade
Mexican friend with diabetes
Profile Image for Peggy.
267 reviews65 followers
March 26, 2010
Awesome story of an irrepressible who's skipped from 4th grade to 6th
and the people she meets. It's funny and fabulous and you'll fall in love with Lylice (rhymes with Phyllis) Martin.
375 reviews
August 8, 2012
I loved this book! Best middle schoool/ya novel I've read in a long tome. Makes me want to get back in to a sixth grade class and do a read aloud! Last ya I loved this much was True Believer....
Profile Image for Jessica.
11 reviews
December 4, 2013
This book was great. I dont even know how to explain like the whole bullying and girlfriend/boyfriend was amazing and soo dramatic!!!!
2 reviews1 follower
July 18, 2015
This was my favorite book back in middle school. I actually read it twice because it was that good!
Displaying 1 - 26 of 26 reviews

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