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You Go First

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3.81  ·  Rating details ·  4,861 ratings  ·  726 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.

Twelve-year-old
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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.

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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  4,861 ratings  ·  726 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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Danielle
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."
...more
Eva
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
Josiah
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
Jessica Woodbury
Jan 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is very subtle for a middle grade book, so may not be the best pick for more literal kids. Both of our main kids, Charlotte and Ben, have two problems. One at home, and one at school. The book spends the vast majority of time on the school problem, when it was obvious to me that the kids' focus on the school problems was really a way of avoiding their home problems. Yet this is never really spelled out, in fact, I bet a lot of kids would forget that Charlotte's dad is literally in the hospi ...more
Kate Olson
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
...more
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, box7
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
...more
Karis
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
...more
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
Lata
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
...more
Sarah
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
...more
Abby
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
...more
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
...more
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
Alicia
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
...more
Jean-Marie
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
Darla
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book has so much potential to help struggling middle school students. For kids like Charlotte and Ben, it can feel like they have been left behind. Like the rug has been pulled out from under them and they are in a foreign country. You Go First deals with bullying, illness in the family, divorce, friendship and so much more. I heartily recommend it as a read aloud.
Patrick
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!
Kelly
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
Elizabeth
May 28, 2022 rated it really liked it
A great look into middle school and all of the changes that come with it for friendships and self awareness. Ben and Charlotte both have much occurring in their lives but as find a common ground through Scrabble. I also enjoyed the rabbit hole descriptions and factoids throughout the book!
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.
Rachel
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!
Luz
Mar 10, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: a-marzo2022
This book shows the struggles of two middle schoolers and their friendship through hard times. Charlotte's dad had a heart attack, and she is afraid to see him. Ben's parents are getting divorced, and he doesn't know why. Their lives are connected only through an online Scrabble game, but they become friends in the process. Both kids help each other through being rejected by other people. ...more
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.
...more
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
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great story with complex characters. Very realistic.

I definitely want to read more from this author.
Brandy Painter
Jul 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the back of forth point of view and the connection of two kids who needed someone. It was interesting how Kelly made them not quite honest with each other because, yes, they're kids but also because isn't that what all of us to when given the opportunity to introduce ourselves to a stranger we'll never meet. It's a space to become who we really want to be.

Anyway, I know I'm late to this one and behind on her books in general, but Erin Entrada Kelly is a gift to MG. Everyone should read
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