RAM Readers Spring 2020 discussion

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Merci Suzrez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (drld) | 24 comments Mod
This is the 2019 Newberry award winning book.


message 2: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments • I enjoyed this nice and light-hearted book. Plus, I would like to recommend it to someone who likes down-to-earth (real family life) story. The main character Merci Suarez who is a sixth grader on scholarship. She does not have a rich background but has a lovely family, which is three generations live near to each other as an extended family. (“We tell each other the truth in this family!”) It is a very cultural situation just like many Asian families. I also notice that schooling system is different from my hometown. Unlike my country, teachers rotate instead of rotating of students and sharing a homeroom. It is a coming-to-age tale that Merci navigates difficult changes with friends and family members.

• I like the community service for new students called Sunshine Buddy Program. It sounds really interesting to me maybe because I have not had this experience. As newcomers, students get nervous and want to feel the belongingness. This kind of program is probably a good way to get students started a new academic year. The book really talks about how to deal with changes in a positive and healthy way, and how to figure out everything and move on. (Merci’s bike is falling apart, her grandfather Lolo acts oddly, her brother Roli is busy applying for college, she is kind of bullied and isolated by some mean girls in the school…)

• The book dresses some typical challenges of a sixth grader like friendship, sports, annoying classmates, school projects, being ruled by parents and fitting into groups. You know when girls and boys do not play with each other during recess in the middle school. If you do, you get teased. However, it is also the time when kids begin to discover a romance. The lesson I got from the book is the importance of family staying honest and supportive, and be true to yourself no matter what happened around you. Overall, it is a nice middle school novel to pick up in a sunny Friday!


message 3: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments I like this novel, especially because of the very realistic scenario, characters, and situations. I also like to see that the family´s culture plays a large role in the text. The author depicts a Cuban American family that faces diversities when moves to South Florida.
This story is about an 11-year-old girl Merci Suarez, descendent of Cuban immigrants, who attends the sixth grade at Florida private school on scholarship with her smart older brother Roli. Merci struggles with changes at the new school and home. She experiences bullying and bad feelings at school because her school classmates can buy things that lower-middle-class families cannot. Another challenge is that she is assigned to be a Welcome Buddy of a new boy from Minnesota who just moved to Florida. Merci feels uncomfortable talking to him because he is a boy, and because of how her friend Edna says things that she does not like to hear.
At home, she also faces challenges in seeing that her grandfather Lolo is forgetting things and acts as a strange sometimes, which makes her sad since she loves him very much. The good point is that Merci´s parents emphasize the importance of education and encourage their children to be grateful and value the opportunities they have. Although Merci has her faults, she keeps going to school and close to her family. I appreciate the way some Latin families live; most of them are very close to each other. Merci´s family is an extended family that consists of Merci, her older brother and parents, and includes her aunt, two twin cousins, and her grandparents. Everyone lives next door to each other.
I feel sorry for Merci because she makes a great effort to make money to buy a new bicycle, but she could not, but on the other hand, I find beautiful the way her family comes together to deal with the situation and support her.
I recommend this novel to adolescents because it brings issues as changes (it can happen in unexpected ways), bullying, prejudice, diverse social class, and culture and family issues such as to take care of elders.


message 4: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments Merci Suarez Changes Gears

Merci Suarez is an 11-year-old girl from a Cuban family living in Florida. She attends a private school on a scholarship. She lives with her family in what she calls las tres casitas. Her family lives in one of the houses, her grandparents in another, and her aunt and her twin sons live in the last house.

I was unsure about this book from the title and cover. I know that you aren't supposed to judge a book by its cover, but the cover does give me some information about what the book might be about. However, my opinion changed as I began reading the story. I was quite interested in Merci's life. I think that it is very related to many people who have a culture similar to Merci's.
Merci is a sixth-grader at a private school, and she has to deal with a few bumps in the road throughout the year. Merci deals with typical middle school things. One thing that Merci deals with is that she feels uncomfortable at her school. Merci attends a private school on a scholarship, so she feels out of place at times. I think that people who have ever been new at a school might be able to relate to what Merci feels like. My sister is on a scholarship at a private school, and she says that she often feels out of place. I mentioned Merci as I was reading, and she said that she could relate to how she feels. Her parents wanted her to attend because they understood the value of a good education and wanted the best for their children.

Something that I could relate to was how Merci felt when she found out that her grandfather, Lolo, is sick and has Alzheimer's. My grandmother was also ill. Towards the end of her life, my grandmother forgot who most of her family. It was challenging to understand what was happening, especially since we knew that there was nothing we could do.


message 5: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments This is a cute book, and definitely a contrast from the heavy topics we have read about lately. The levity was nice. As I was reading this novel, I was surprised at how similar Merci's life is to my daughter's. Like Merci, my daughter attends a private school, and, because I am a single mom and the tuition is ridiculous, she attends on a scholarship. It's a great school, but, at times, I have felt like a fish out of water compared to the other families. There are a TON of fundraisers, annual fund drives, and families are expected to give back to the school monetarily. The pressure is tremendous, so I feel Merci's pain. It sometimes feels like the Haves and the Have-Nots, but I try to look past that. My daughter is receiving a good education, so I rest on that.
My daughter is also in the 6th grade, just like Merci, and MAN--some of those struggles are spot-on! The fickleness of preteens, the beginnings of dating, the peer pressure--this book captures it all. These poor 6th graders are negotiating two worlds: their feeling of still belonging in childhood, and the inevitable force of growing up. I know my daughter can relate, so I just downloaded this novel onto her phone. She will love it!


message 6: by Diana (last edited Apr 12, 2020 03:09PM) (new)

Diana | 31 comments Before reading any book, I examine the book front to back. The cover had a little girl wearing purple glasses and riding a bike. In the background stood a pink building with a yellowish sky. On the back cover was a family watching the little girl ride off. The reviews that were on the book were, of course, positive (heartwarming story, with a touching, humorous authenticity, and forever shining in your heart.)
In my opinion, the book looks like an easy read then post. However, the book hit a little too close to home and it made it difficult to read. I have a grandmother (94 years old) who is sick and going blind. I remember being so upset when she couldn't remember my name and so broken when she held my hand and told me everything is okay, but I knew she was lying. So, lost how the world is changing but having no comprehension, why?
After finishing the book I thought it would easy to post because I related to the book so much. Realizing everyone changed from 5th to 6th grade. Not being old enough to know the problems in the family but always being stuck babysitting rugrats. Everything I own as a child was a hand-me-down, just wanting one thing to be brand new...to JUST be mine. So how I found it difficult to even post. I enjoyed the book however I can't really put in words. All I can really say is I felt Merci pain before but just like Merci gift to Lolo we have to remember the good times and create new great memories.


message 7: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments Natalie wrote: "This is a cute book, and definitely a contrast from the heavy topics we have read about lately. The levity was nice. As I was reading this novel, I was surprised at how similar Merci's life is to m..."

Hey Natalie,

I feel sorry for all the hardships you are facing right now! Stay strong and be positive! I really like how you can relate this book to your daughter's life as well as sharing it with her. I'm sure she will love this great book. To be honest, I have thought of reading with my kids in the future. It would be a lovely experience even though I'm still single at this moment.

Yao Chen


message 8: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments Diana wrote: "Before reading any book, I examine the book front to back. The cover had a little girl wearing purple glasses and riding a bike. In the background stood a pink building with a yellowish sky. On the..."

Hey Diana,

Your post really made me stop and reflect on my personal expereince for a moment. Same here. I do not know how to put it in words properly. But I really feel you when I read the portion of sick and old grandma and hand-me-down stuff. It made me remember so many things in the past.

Yao Chen


message 9: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments Natalie wrote: "This is a cute book, and definitely a contrast from the heavy topics we have read about lately. The levity was nice. As I was reading this novel, I was surprised at how similar Merci's life is to m..."

Hey Natalie,
It is interesting that you can connect your daughter´s struggles with Merci. I do not have children, but I experienced the feeling "fish out of water" when I first got here. It is not easy to start a new life in a different Country. In general, people are not prepared to deal with diversity and tend to judge and do stereotype. They have their groups, their community, and are not sensitive to understand, include and help others. It is a pity! Definitely the world needs to change!


message 10: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments Jackie wrote: "Merci Suarez Changes Gears

Merci Suarez is an 11-year-old girl from a Cuban family living in Florida. She attends a private school on a scholarship. She lives with her family in what she calls las..."


Hi Jackie,

I also like the part that says that Merci´s parents value a good education! My dad encouraged me to write and read books when I was very young, and always motivated me to do my best at school. He used to read me stories every night, and I am sure that it influenced my learning.


message 11: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments Diana wrote: "Before reading any book, I examine the book front to back. The cover had a little girl wearing purple glasses and riding a bike. In the background stood a pink building with a yellowish sky. On the..."

Diana: Same here. This book hit very close to home for me, as well. Not just the fact that my daughter goes to a private school on scholarship, but also because my family wrestled with keeping secrets. When my dad was very sick, he was in total denial and asked us to not tell anyone in the family about his situation. This tore us up, because we always tell our family what's going on. It was stressful. So, I totally understand what Merci felt like having to keep a big secret from her family (about Lolo's health) when she knew the family should know.


message 12: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments Lourdes wrote: "I like this novel, especially because of the very realistic scenario, characters, and situations. I also like to see that the family´s culture plays a large role in the text. The author depicts a C..."

Lourdes: I like how you brought up that this book was a good representation of Latin families, and I agree that this is a great book for adolescents to read, especially Latin children. Only within the last decade have we really seen Latin protagonists portrayed in literature. Sandra Cisneros was a ground-breaker with The House of Mango street, and I know she opened the doors for other Latin authors to write about our culture. Latin families should be represented more, and it would be good for a Latino child to read about a lead character he or she can relate to.


message 13: by ThaoTam (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments The story begins with Merci the main character in six grade years, and right away she notices big changes. How do you feel when you finished Merci Suares Changes Gears?
First, how hard Merci tries when she studies and tries to get along with her new friend at her private school. Even she can study at school with the scholarship but she and their rich friend have different situations family and life.
Secondary, immigration people: in this story, I can see my relative there, they struggle with the new life in a new country. They move here to live with different reasons but all of them hope to have a better life for their family, for their children. They hope their children have a better future.
Finally, the family relationship, the love that they give to each other, the love that Merci gives to Lola and the relationship between her and her brother!


message 14: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments ThaoTam wrote: "The story begins with Merci the main character in six grade years, and right away she notices big changes. How do you feel when you finished Merci Suares Changes Gears?
First, how hard Merci tries..."


Hi Thao

I have never moved to a new school, but I imagine that you have to try hard to fit in and find your place at the beginning. Just like you, I noticed that Merci did try very hard to fit into her new school despite that she had been there a while. I'm sure that she must have felt a bit defeated because she seemed like a nice girl.


message 15: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments Lourdes wrote: "Jackie wrote: "Merci Suarez Changes Gears

Merci Suarez is an 11-year-old girl from a Cuban family living in Florida. She attends a private school on a scholarship. She lives with her family in wha..."


Lourdes wrote: "Jackie wrote: "Merci Suarez Changes Gears

Merci Suarez is an 11-year-old girl from a Cuban family living in Florida. She attends a private school on a scholarship. She lives with her family in wha..."



Hi Lourdes,

Yes, I'm so thankful that my parents valued education and taught me just how valuable it is. I'm glad that your father instilled the love for reading and writing in you from a young age. I think it can make all the difference. As educators, we can help the students see it's value, especially for the students who might not have that at home.


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