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You Go First

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  4,141 ratings  ·  622 reviews
Funny and poignant, You Go First by 2018 Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly is an engaging exploration of family, spelling, art, bullying, and the ever-complicated world of middle school friendships. Erin Entrada Kelly’s perfectly pitched tween voice will resonate with fans of Kate DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale and Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out and Back Again.

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 10th 2018 by Greenwillow Books
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Gretchen In my opinion YES!! I would recommend it to you if you like middle grade books that have realistic characters and situations.
Lynnea johnston Yes. My daughter is reading it, but I am reading it with her. It's slow-goinjg for us, because it's a writing style that is very new and different for…moreYes. My daughter is reading it, but I am reading it with her. It's slow-goinjg for us, because it's a writing style that is very new and different for my child. However, while very cerebral and chocked full of trivia, it all fits together and my child is comprehending and understanding it at her level, albeit, I do add to her comprehension by asking questions along the way.(less)

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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  4,141 ratings  ·  622 reviews

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Rachel Reads Ravenously
3.5 stars

I picked up You Go First because this author won the newbery last year and I was curious about her work. Also this was up for the middle grade goodreads choice awards last year as well. Honestly, while I enjoyed this book for the most part, it fell a bit flat. I never felt Ben or Charlotte connected at all despite being the main characters. They both had issues at school that felt very much unresolved at the end. I was left feeling... unsatisfied. And that's not a good thing.

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Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade-ya
Erin Entrada Kelly is a masterful writer with succinct pacing, inventive ways into a story, and wonderful multi-character voice. Plus, she has such a gift for giving voice and life to characters who feel isolated yet yearn to connect and, lucky for readers, eventually do.

"Someday, I'll be digging for specimens in Egyptian pyramids and none of this will matter."
May 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
I had such high expectations for this book, because I've really loved her previous books, but this one just - fell short of the mark. Charlotte and Ben never really connected with each other, preferring to share trivialities instead of actual meaningful interactions like the premise suggests. I liked that they each made friends outside of each other but the implication that Charlotte and Ben would drift apart now that they had 'real' friends was one I didn't appreciate. As someone who has formed ...more
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
Only months after winning the 2018 Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe, Erin Entrada Kelly released You Go First, another sensitively woven tale of friendship and destiny. Twelve-year-old Charlotte Lockard and eleven-year-old Ben Boxer live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Lanester, Louisiana, respectively, but are friends via the online version of Scrabble they play. They both come from parents who prioritize education and having a curious outlook on the world, and while this leads Charlotte and ...more
mindful.librarian ☀️
Thanks to the Kid Lit Exchange network for the review copy of this book - all opinions are my own.

This is a quiet book about the power of connections when you are feeling alone - just having ONE person to connect with can be life saving and life changing. Charlotte and Ben are both struggling with friendships and family and their online Scrabble game is what brings them together - I love that Ben picks up the phone to call her to break the cycle of only connecting on screens rather than verbally
Abby Johnson
Ahhh this book got me in the feels! Erin Entrada Kelly is a master of that particular ache that middle school brings. These amazing characters will stick with you. Hand this one to kids also feeling the ache of middle school or readers who live for character-driven stories (like meeee).
Richie Partington
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Richie’s Picks: YOU GO FIRST by Erin Entrada Kelly, Greenwillow, April 2018, 304p., ISBN: 978-0-06-241-418-2

“A gas” -- 1960s slang for having a lot of fun

“Ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend
When people can be so cold?
They’ll hurt you and desert you”
--Carole King” (1971)

“Charlotte wasn’t sure what happened, but suddenly there were other things to do. There was too much to worry about. Middle school infected her life like a virus. She started hiding her dolls, even though she still want
Another review for me to type up with mixed feelings. I don’t typically read juvenile general fiction, but I do have a few favorite authors I love in the genre and was intrigued the premise of You Go First, so I gave this one a shot. I think this author didn’t lose me with her writing style, but rather with the characters, added subtle agendas, and slightly forced feel to some of the important events in the book.

The book is about two friends, well friends in the fact that they are friendly Scrab
Ms. Jackson
Mar 01, 2019 rated it liked it
A possible theme for this book is that it is important to connect with people. Ben and Charlotte, the two protagonists, have never met, but they've played online Scrabble together for a couple of years. After something big happens in Ben's life, he decides to reach out and call Charlotte. The two start talking and in the end this becomes very important to the story. ...more
3.5 stars. School’s tough. Especially if your best friend suddenly decides that you’re just a gigantic pain in the ass that she needs to drop from her life because you’re both changing and your curiosity, intelligence and interests no longer interest her. Or, you’re really smart, bad at reading people, and are steadily bullied.
The two kids in this story have a connection through Scrabble, though, interestingly, don’t actually confess the pain they’re experiencing in their lives to one another, w
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Over the course of six days two preteens engaged in an online Scrabble game both undergo major life changes. Both Charlotte and Ben are sans friends IRL (that's in real life for the uninitiated.) Both are bright and inquisitive youngsters, sticking out like sore thumbs in a land populated by homogenous middle schoolers. Alternating chapters focus on the scenarios in each child's life.
Charlotte's father has been hospitalized following a heart attack. Her once best friend now thinks of her as a p
Charlotte made a promise to herself then and there: If I ever see someone fall, I'll ask if they're okay.

This had so much potential to be a new favorite. It just missed that mark for me. But it dealt with so much in such a nice way. Bullying, online friendships, divorce, health failures, so, so much.

I really came to care for Charlotte and Ben. They didn't seem relatable until suddenly something clicked and I saw myself in them. I don't know what that moment was or what changed, but it was a p
Laura Gardner
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5/5 for You Go First! Thx to @erinentrada for sharing this ARC with me. It doesn't come out until April, 2018! I am sharing my copy with the @kidlitexchange network. All opinions are my own.

Charlotte and Ben are online scrabble buddies; Charlotte lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Ben lives in a small town in Louisiana. Both are gifted students who struggle to make friends and both are having family problems at home. Charlotte's father has had a heart attack and she can't brin
Jordan Henrichs
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
You Go First is similarly structured to Hello, Universe (Kelly's Newbery Medal winner) and I think coming fresh off the heels of that title, this one seems to be underwhelming people. I rather liked it though. Yes, it reads like Hello, Universe with two different characters alternating chapters, but on a much smaller scale. And I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing that the two are similar. Hello, Universe feels bigger, more important. You Go First feels more normal and everyday. When you m ...more
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm always down for a perfectly plotted middle grade even when they are sometimes a little pat, but that's okay, because we all need hope in the world and Entrada Kelly superbly navigates the tween traumas of friendship and belonging.

Ben (is on the spectrum) and is an intelligent eleven year old who was just told his parents are splitting up, so he decides to run for school officer. Charlotte wants to be someone other than Charlotte, imagining a girl like who she is playing Scrabble with Ben, L
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think this is the first middle grade book I've read that features an online-only friendship. That alone makes it unique, especially when adolescent social media is portrayed so negatively. The book dealt with other important themes as well - friendships, bullying, divorce, families. My only complaint is that the story felt a little slow. ...more
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Charlotte’s dad has a heart attack. Ben’s parents are divorcing. Charlotte may lose her best friend. Ben may run for student council. How does an online scrabble game connect them? Read to find out!
Mar 27, 2019 added it
Shelves: read-in-2019
This book hit me in the heart hard. Charlotte and Ben know each other only through their online Scrabble playing -- Charlotte, aka Lottie, absolutely destroys Ben at the game, but they love to keep their games going. Charlotte's dealing with a lot at home. Her parents are older, which is something she's always felt weird about, and when her father has a heart attack, she finds herself spiraling into worry, into fear, and deeply into herself. More, she's dealing with a former best friend who is m ...more
Clare Lund
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
12-year-old Charlotte Lockhard lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and feels herself growing apart from her childhood best friend Bridget, just as Charlotte's dad suffers a serious heart attack. 11-year-old Ben Boxer lives in small town Louisiana, where he dreams of becoming class president, but right now his biggest challenge is just finding someone to sit with at lunch who loves Harry Potter as much as he does. The two live more than a thousand miles apart, but develop an unlikely friendship ...more
Leonard Kim
May 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
My reaction was more like 1.5 stars but I listened to the audiobook and not really caring for the narration played into my reaction, so I am giving some benefit of the doubt that this might work better on the page. I thought this was too essentially similar to Hello Universe and yet also more dependent on cliches than that book. Also as I suggested in my review of Snow Lane, I really think Kelly doesn’t do right by a certain character type in her portrayals of Ben and Charlotte.
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
So sweet! Charlotte and Ben are so adorably dorky (and honestly pretty relatable) I loved them so much. This book perfectly captures middle school and all its ups and downs; bullies, relationship with your parents, growing apart with old friends and gaining new friends. Reading this made the 12 year old me feel much less alone. Also I can honestly say I got a nice science and vocabulary lesson from all the rabbit holes. 😆 Loved it!
Wendy MacKnight
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-read
Truly a magical book! The story of online scrabble buddies Charlotte and Ben, who are each going through friend and family issues is simply brilliant storytelling at its best. I couldn't put it down. A classic.
Jill Farr
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“One friend can make all the difference.” 💙💙
Amanda Williams
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Tugs at the heart!
Amy Bradsher
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great story with complex characters. Very realistic.

I definitely want to read more from this author.
Mar 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Middle grade is a time of great change and confusion. Everyone is trying to find where they fit in at school and life. This book was told from both Charlotte and Ben's perspectives. They became friends through an online Scrabble game. They're both intelligent children who does not fit into the "popular" mold in school. It can get uncomfortable when we hear about each of them are mistreated and bullied at school. Add to that, both MC's are facing challenges at home. Ben's just learned his parent ...more
Joann M
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars to be precise! ✨
The writing style was BEAUTIFUL! Absolutely loved the writing style the most! The characters and everything were perfect and the book will take you back to the good old middle school days! 🥺
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
touches on some of the same topics as her past books: social ostracization, bullying, friendship, etc. loved the structure of the book in terms of POV switches, the facts at the beginning of Charlotte's chapters, the dictionary definitions at the beginning of each section that related to the story, and the integration of nerdy science trivia.

I felt a little dissatisfied with the ending bc of reasons that I might discuss later and tag for spoilers

TWs: ableist language
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This delightful YA novel follows two middle schoolers in different states who are Scrabble fans. They become online buddies and are there for one another during stressful times. Ben's parents are going through a divorce, and he has decided to run for the student council (without realizing what a dork everybody else considers him). Charlotte's father has just had a heart attack, and she has been dumped by her best friend. Although the two kids have never met, their communications with one another ...more
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