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Monday, October 7, 2019

Review: Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee



Maybe He Just Likes You 
By Barbara Dee 
10/1/19 
Aladdin 

Barbara Dee explores the subject of #MeToo for the middle grade audience in this heart-wrenching—and ultimately uplifting—novel about experiencing harassment and unwanted attention from classmates. 

For seventh grader Mila, it starts with an unwanted hug on the school blacktop. 

The next day, it’s another hug. A smirk. Comments. It all feels…weird. According to her friend Zara, Mila is being immature, overreacting. Doesn’t she know what flirting looks like? 

But it keeps happening, despite Mila’s protests. On the bus, in the halls. Even during band practice-the one time Mila could always escape to her “blue-sky” feeling. It seems like the boys are EVERYWHERE. And it doesn’t feel like flirting–so what is it? 

Mila starts to gain confidence when she enrolls in karate class. But her friends still don’t understand why Mila is making such a big deal about the boys’ attention. When Mila is finally pushed too far, she realizes she can’t battle this on her own–and finds help in some unexpected places. 

From the author of STAR-CROSSED, HALFWAY NORMAL and EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT YOU comes this timely story of a middle school girl standing up and finding her voice. 


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Seventh-grader Mila’s middle-school experience seems to be going fine: she has three best friends, loves playing trumpet in the band, and her life at home is predictable. But then a group of boys start to pay too much attention to Mila, an uncomfortable kind of attention. It starts with requests for hugs and escalates. Mila’s friends all respond differently, leaving Mila even more confused. Can karate classes, a new friend, and some unexpected perspective help Mila confront her bullies? 

Barbara Dee’s Maybe He Just Likes You is a timely and important exploration of the #MeToo movement that focuses on middle-school, a time when sexual harassment behaviors and experiences often begin. 

Mila’s experience with sexual harassment is sadly a familiar one for many young girls: her harassment begins subtly and slowly, advancing from awkward to downright uncomfortable and scary. Barbara Dee offers readers an honest, unflinching look at the realities, consequences, and lasting effects of sexual harassment and bullying.  Mila’s confusion, shame, fear, anger, and guilt are aptly and deeply felt. And Dee does an effective job of highlighting how many victims of sexual harassment are often met with criticism, disbelief, and blame.  

Dee surrounds Mila with an eclectic, diverse, and realistically portrayed group of friends and family, from Zara, whose insecurities can make her lash out; to peacemaker Omi, whose courage comes softly, Max, whose past experiences with bullying make him hesitant to interact with the boy he likes, and more. And, of course, at the heart of Maybe He Just Likes You, is relatable, admirable Mila, whose strength and compassion make her compelling and easy to root for. 

Mila’s story is not an easy one, but Mila finds her voice and doesn’t stop using it until she is heard and listened to. Just like in real life, there is no perfectly pretty and tied up with a bow ending, and while Dee doesn’t sugarcoat the hard parts, there is hope, validation, and victory in Mila’s story as well.   

Maybe He Just Likes You deftly and captivatingly explores sexual harassment in authentic, careful, and thought-provoking ways that will move, inspire, and educate young readers and encourage thoughtful, needed discussions. 

MY RATING 
4/5 Cupcakes

Barbara Dee is the author of several middle grade novels including Maybe He Just Likes You, Everything I Know About You, Halfway Normal, and Star-Crossed 




1 comment:

Brenda said...

Martial arts can definitely bring a sense of confidence to children. With the right coaches and training children in my experience learn how to defend themselves against bullying or even like in this book dealing with sexual harassment. Sounds like a powerful story.