Keep It Together, Keiko Carter

by Debbi Michiko Florence Scholastic/2020
  • A 2020 New England Book Award finalist (NEIBA)
  • Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
  • 2020-21 ProjectLIT Book Club Selection

A sweet story about first crushes, friendship drama, and finding the courage to stand up for yourself.

Seventh grade is supposed to be a game changer. And Keiko thinks she’s got it covered, especially with Audrey and Jenna by her side to shop for a new look, pick out a prime lunch spot, and even hit up that cute new bubble tea place after school. Her trio is ready to tackle life as they always have… together.

But when Audrey decides they need boyfriends before Fall Ball, it looks like things may be changing in all the wrong ways. Jenna is sick of caving into Audrey’s demands, and soon Keiko’s besties are barely talking, leaving her caught in the middle. While she’s been dreaming about triple-dates, first kisses, and a boy she really shouldn’t have a crush on, the friendship she’s always thought was rock-solid is beginning to crumble.

Keiko feels pulled in two directions. Should she try to help her friends — even if it means losing one of them — or follow her heart? When it comes to flirting, friendships, and fallouts, how is Keiko supposed to keep it all together?

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“I loved how relatable (the story) was, being in a group of three friends and dealing with their conflicts.”

– Novalee, age 12

“In her middle-grade debut, Florence creates a fun, accessible story, touching on the realities of middle school, such as friendships, fallouts, misunderstandings, first crushes, and fitting in. The highs and lows of the girls’ friendship highlight toxic relationships versus true friendship. Sweet and smart.”

Kirkus Review

“Tween and teen relationships are explored in this charming middle-grade story by Florence.”

–Booklist

“I love this book is because it’s the only one I can think of in which middle grade covers toxic friendships. I predict this book will be a humongous comfort to many readers in the throes of adolescence. Highly recommend to readers in grades 5 and up!”

–Kristin Crouch, teacher

More about the book

Just Be Cool, Jenna Sakai

by Debbi Michiko Florence, Scholastic August 3, 2021

“Heartbreak is for suckers.”

When Jenna Sakai gets dumped over winter break, it confirms what she learned from her parents’ messy divorce: Relationships are risky and only lead to disappointment. So even though she still has to see her ex-boyfriend at newspaper club, Jenna is going to be totally heartless this semester — no boys, just books.

But keeping her cool isn’t always easy. Jenna’s chief competition for a big journalism scholarship is none other than her ex-. Her best friend Keiko always seems busy with her own boyfriend. And cute-but-incredibly-annoying Rin Watanabe keeps stealing her booth at the diner she’s been hiding at every day after school. Rin is every bit as stubborn and detached as Jenna. And the more Jenna gets to know him, the more intriguing a mystery he seems. Soon Jenna is starting to realize that being a loner is kind of, well, lonely. And letting people in might just be a risk worth taking.

This book is full of family drama and first crushes, independent girls, and friendship.

Pre-ordering info coming soon! In the meantime, mark this book as “to read” on GoodReads.

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