Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Merci Suárez Changes Gears” as Want to Read:
Merci Suárez Changes Gears
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Merci Suárez Changes Gears

(Merci Suárez #1)

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  7,322 ratings  ·  1,490 reviews
Thoughtful, strong-willed sixth-grader Merci Suarez navigates difficult changes with friends, family, and everyone in between in a resonant new novel from Meg Medina.

Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older
Hardcover, 355 pages
Published September 11th 2018 by Candlewick Press (first published September 1st 2018)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Merci Suárez Changes Gears, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Stephanie It does have a couple of touching moments, as Merci realizes her beloved Lolo won't be the same forever. I might have teared up a little at the relati…moreIt does have a couple of touching moments, as Merci realizes her beloved Lolo won't be the same forever. I might have teared up a little at the relationship between Merci and her older brother too. But it's not a tear-jerker overall, in my opinion.(less)
Anthony Conty It may depend on how much Alzheimer's Disease has affected you. Some of the parts made me cringe with recognition. Other than that, it is pretty light…moreIt may depend on how much Alzheimer's Disease has affected you. Some of the parts made me cringe with recognition. Other than that, it is pretty light-hearted. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,322 ratings  ·  1,490 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Merci Suárez Changes Gears
Hannah Greendale
This book is heartwarming and bittersweet with a sugar-dusting of humor. Medina captures all the awkwardness and unexpected changes of life in the sixth grade, and she pairs that with a convincing portrayal of Merci Suárez's beloved grandfather succumbing to Alzheimer's disease.

Lots of important issued covered here, from family dynamics and new friendships to first crushes and conflict resolution. Just when Merci Suárez Changes Gears begins to feel a bit long-winded, Medina clenches it with a g
Julie G ("Doctor, my eyes!"  Limited time online)
Before I write this review, I need to wipe a few tears from my eyes.

This past Thursday, our middle child experienced her last day of elementary school, and this book, Merci Suarez Changes Gears, was our last read aloud in the lower grades.

It's been an emotional week of saying goodbye to teachers and classmates who won't be at the next school, and the toughest moment of all might have been when that little kindergartner handed our daughter a rose and whispered, “I'll miss you next year.”

Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, netgalley
3.5 stars roundup
A middle grade novel with plenty of heart, Merci Suarez Changes Gears is the kind of novel that young readers with large extended family will gravitate towards. Heartwarming is not a word I use too often in my reviews, but it is certainly warranted in regards to this book. Like Merci, I was close to my grandparents and even lived with my paternal grandparents for a time when I was a teenager. I loved the author's note too.
Feb 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to people who like realistic fiction. HOWEVER, that being said, this book should not have won the Newbery. It was not "distinguished" or "memorable" in any way. It was a nice, quick read and I enjoyed it, but.
The Newbery committee can make some... interesting choices.
Michael Finocchiaro
This is a beautiful story about a girl, Mercedes "Merci" Suárez, in Fort Myers, Florida who is going into 6th grade. Her family all live together in three connected houses that they call Las Casitas. Merci is in private school and has to help her relatives paint the school to pay her way. She has the typical challenges of a 6th grader (friends, enemies, school projects, sports) and at the same time, her abuelo Lolo has Alzenheimers but no one has told her yet. It is a very touching tale that rem ...more
Phil J
Jan 28, 2019 rated it liked it
This is really two books.

The first book is the story of a sixth grader whose feelings are mildly bruised because the popular girls don't pay enough attention to her. This is a familiar formula. While Medina executes it with more grace than, say, R.J. Palacio, the thing that she misses is stakes. The popular girls are no real threat. The consequence of their meanness is a slight downtick in Merci's self-image.

The second book is more interesting and unusual. It is about a girl's changing relations
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sixth grade is a tough year for every child. As a scholarship student at an expensive academy, it's even tougher for Merci Suarez. Not only does she have to learn to endure middle school where she doesn't always feel she fits in with her classmates, but she also has to start growing up and facing changes. Not just changes in herself, but changes in her family as well. Her brother is getting ready to leave for college and her grandfather is showing symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. It's a time of ...more
Kate Olson
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
2019 Newbery Winner - not going to review for real because it already won the Newbery, so I don't think my personal feelings about it are all that relevant! I will say, however, that it's the first Newbery title that I've highly enjoyed in a long time, so there's that. As for kids, there will be kids who absolutely love it, and some who don't, same as with any other book. I'd love to see it as a whole class read aloud, as I think that's how this story will have the most impact. Sweet spot is gra ...more
Jun 23, 2019 rated it liked it
I've discovered numerous wonderful authors solely because they won the Newbery Medal, and Meg Medina can be added to that list. Successful before Merci Suárez Changes Gears hit the market in 2018, her popularity took a big leap when the ALA Newbery Committee named her book the year's most distinguished American contribution to children's literature, and it measures up well against every criteria for the award. Like every kid, eleven-year-old Merci Suárez is due for changes as she enters sixth gr ...more
"Meg Medina is the Judy Blume for a new generation."

So reads the pull quote at the top of the book's cover. This quote spoke to my heart, because as a child of the eighties, I loved Judy Blume.

It's an apt description, too. In some ways, Marci Suárez Changes Gears is a cousin of Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself. Like Blume, Medina's writing is sharply focused but accessible and evocative. It illuminates the everydayness of every day. Frankly, Medina's writing is probably better than Blume's
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved every minute of my time with Merci and her family a large loving multi-generational family facing the changes in Merci's beloved Lolo, the person in the family who seems to understand her the most. Merci and her brother are the scholarship kids at their private school and she often feels like an outsider, especially around an overbearing classmate. But she holds her own. There is lots of spanish naturally interspersed in this book as it is in Merci's life. Her teachers are demanding but ...more
Katie Fitzgerald
Mercedes (Merci) Suárez lives in Las Casitas with her parents and older brother, Roli, her Tia Ines, her five-year-old twin cousins, and her grandparents. She attends a private school on scholarship, making her something of an outsider with her peers, a problem which is compounded when Merci is assigned to be the buddy of a new boy on whom her rival, Edna Santos, has a crush. At home, Merci is also struggling to understand the behavior of her grandfather, Lolo, who has begun to behave strangely ...more
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I had never heard of this book when it won the Newbery, and asking a friend who works at a bookstore about it, she admitted that none of them had heard of it either! I planned to read it, of course, and mentioning to another friend (a school librarian) that I had just gotten it from the library last week, she told me that she loved it, and that it "fills a need."

And it does. I can see why this would attract awards attention, and hope that the Newbery gives it a boost into the hands of the kids w
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: newbery-titles
I’m disappointed, Newbery Committee. While this is a sweet story, it is a familiar formula, and not the best application of it. At best, I’d say this might qualify as an Honor book, but not a winner. Maybe the pool was a bit weak this year? I intend to read the two actual Honor winners to find out.
The formula is as follows...11-year-old girl trying to adjust to the many changes in her life—middle school, brilliant brother preparing for college, and her beloved Lolo (grandfather), who is becomin
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Merci attends a private school by doing "community service." Her friend is jealous of her assignment since Merci is assigned to help the friend's "crush." At the same time, Merci's grandfather Lolo, to whom she is quite close, is declining rapidly due to Alzheimer's Disease, and Merci doesn't really understand what is going on due to the family's decision to keep her in the dark. It's a coming-of-age tale which may appeal to middle school readers at the moment but probably lacks an enduring qual ...more
Wendi Lee
Merci hates change, but sixth grade means other kids are starting to act differently (why are the girls giggling around the boys). She’s paired with a new boy in the Sunshine Club, which gives mean girl Edna ammunition to tease Merci relentlessly. And then there’s Merci’s grandfather, Lolo, who is changing in ways that none of Merci’s family wants to talk about.

I loved this middle grade novel, which perfectly captures what it feels like to be a tween in a large extended family, maneuvering thro
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Captures the essence of middle school perfectly: the troubles of fitting in among, the frustration of butting heads with your parents, puberty and the confusing aspects of people around you developing crushes and acting weird. It also tackles classism and the experience of being poor in an environment where everyone else is rich and the alienation that comes with it. I loved or loved to hate the characters and watching Merci grow was satisfying.
Merci is what I know of sixth graders: Self-interested, generous, loud, tongue-tied, confidant and insecure. Throw in a loving and aggravating family, that spills back and forth between the three casitas, and you get a marvelous jumble of strong personalities that sometimes hinder, but mostly support each other.
The Reading Countess
Listen, people. I’m as big of a fan of shouting SURPRISE! at a party as the next person, but the next time we announce the Newbery, can someone PLEASE put the winner on my radar beforehand? I mean, I like to look like I can pick a winner and that I like to read books for middle grade readers because...you know what? I can and I do. But I was fooled, ya’ll. And my heart hasn’t stopped beating ninety to nothing since everyone jumped out of the dark corners of the party and shouted SURPRISE!

Leonard Kim
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is likable. I hope I will be forgiven this rating, as I am not really being contrarian with respect to the Newbery. I didn't like the stereotypical characterizations of several secondary characters: Roli above all, but also characters like Edna, Miss McDaniels, and Ms. Tannenbaum. Those who know me know this is more of a pet peeve than a larger comment about the book’s quality. I have complained in the past about representations of STEM and high-achieving kids, and I guess I am also sensiti ...more
Sam Bloom
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
SUCH a great book. Well-deserving of the recent Newbery!
Brandy Painter
Originally posted at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

I adore Meg Medina's YA novels. I feel like all of them (especially Burn Baby Burn) do not get the love and accolades they fully deserve. I was so excited when I discovered she was writing a MG novel. The switch from YA to MG is not as easy as it would first appear, but Medina also has two delightful picture books to her name, so I knew she had the range. I was over the moon when she won the Newbery even though I had not yet read Merci Suárez
Alex  Baugh
Eleven-year-old Cuban American Merci Suárez lives in the Palm Beach area of Florida with her parents, and her very smart brother Roli, 17. Right next to them live their Abuela and Abuelo, called Lolo, and right next to them lives Tia Inéz, with her young twins, Axel and Tomás. The three identical houses are affectionately called Las Casitas by Merci's mother.

Roli and Merci are scholarship students at a private school. Since their dad and Lolo are painters, some of their tuition is paid for in wo
Monica Edinger
Lovely spot-on middle grade featuring a close extended Cuban-American family, a realistic middle school, and a warm story. Merci is a delightful character to spend time with along with her friends and family.
Merci is not exactly thrilled to go back to school where she feels like an outsider. To make matters worse, she’s assigned to be Sunshine-Buddy to the new boy in her grade, the one her worst enemy has a crush on. Between juggling fights and jealousy at school, Merci also struggles at home where her dear abuelo has not been doing very great.

I knew this book was going to be a hard read. Merci’s grandfather is diagnosed with Alzheimer and the slow progression of his illness is very painful to read.
Reviewed for School Library Journal (issue 2018-12-01):


Gr 4–7—Eleven-year-old Merci Suárez is starting sixth grade and everything is changing. Not only do upper graders have to switch teachers throughout the day, but playing sports, like Merci loves to do, is seen as babyish and befriending boys is taboo. So when Merci is assigned to show new kid Michael Clark around as part of her scholarship package at Seaward Pines Academy, it's a problem. Especially when the richest, smarte
There is something about middle school books and mean girls that just go together. And this book is no exception. But Merci is more than just another protagonist, fighting the good fight against the mean girls of the world. She is also a Cuban-American, who is living with her extended family in Florida, with her beloved grandparents, aunt, and twin cousins.

I love how tight she is with her family, that she cares about them. That she wants to do right by them, despite not liking watching the twin
I am still enjoying my mini-project to read all the Newbery Award winners of the 21st century. These are books for middle grade readers, 8-12. So far they have all been quick reads and great stories.

Merci Suarez Changes Gears won in 2019 and features a 6th grade Latina girl attending Seaward Pines Academy on scholarship in Florida. Like any 6th grader, she is thrown in with many kids she does not know well because now they change classrooms for separate subjects. I remember that!

Her lower socio-
This book has been on my radar for awhile. In fact I even checked it out a few months ago and then returned it to the library unread, three weeks later because I never got around to reading it. But when I heard it won the 2019 Newberry Award, I knew I had to make more of an effort to read it. And so I decided to listen to the audiobook on my weekly commute into work.

First things first, I love Merci and her family. Merci is such a relateable girl, from her worries about her grandfather to her dea
First sentence: To think, only yesterday I was in chancletas, sipping lemonade and watching my twin cousins run through the sprinkler in the yard. Now, I'm here in Mr. Patchett's class, sweating in my polyester school blazer and waiting for this torture to be over.

Premise/plot: Merci Suarez Changes Gears is your typical coming-of-age novel--perhaps with one exception--it is the Newbery Medal winner for 2019. Merci Suarez has a big, loving family--though far from perfect. Merci Suarez is having s
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
first generation families-school bullying- fitting in 1 2 Jun 18, 2019 10:47AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Rich (Dyamonde Daniel #2)
  • Hello, Universe
  • When You Trap a Tiger
  • Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever
  • Some Places More Than Others
  • A Ball for Daisy
  • The Bridge Home
  • Wolf in the Snow
  • The Higher Power of Lucky (The Hard Pan Trilogy, #1)
  • Breathing New Life Into Book Clubs: A Practical Guide for Teachers
  • Criss Cross
  • New Kid (New Kid, #1)
  • The Last Cuentista
  • From the Desk of Zoe Washington
  • Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (Sal and Gabi, #1)
  • Other Words for Home
  • Kitten's First Full Moon
  • My Friend Rabbit
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Meg Medina is an award-winning and New York Times best-selling author who writes picture books, as well as middle grade and young adult fiction. Sign up here for Meg's blogpost for news about life, books, and events.

Her works have been called “heartbreaking,” “lyrical” and, “must haves for every collection.” She won the American Library Association's 2020 Newbery Award for Merci Suárez Changes Ge

Other books in the series

Merci Suárez (3 books)
  • Merci Suárez Can't Dance
  • Merci Suárez Plays It Cool

Articles featuring this book

If you’re like us, you can’t resist a good book recommendation. That’s why we love BookExpo America, the largest annual book trade fair in...
69 likes · 54 comments
“Cruz has never been my favorite person, I'll give you that. But an enemy? There's no sense i having those if we can help it" -Papi” 3 likes
“...popular is even weirder. Turns out, it's not the same thing as having friends at all" -Merci” 3 likes
More quotes…