Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Mother-Daughter Book Club

The Mother-Daughter Book Club

Heather Vogel Frederick
Fiction  Series
For ages 9 to 12
Simon and Schuster, 2007   ISBN: 978-0689864124

When she was younger, Emma looked forward to the first day of school, but now it is a trial that has to be endured. This year she is going into sixth grade, the first class in middle school, and she fully expects her first day to be difficult, and it is. Becca and her cronies (the Fab Four) pick on Emma, and Emma’s best friend Jess is in a different home room.

Jess is also subjected to needling, teasing, and snide remarks from the Fab Four. Though she is hurt by their words, she is more hurt by her mother’s ongoing absence. Jess’ mother Shannon is in New York City playing a part in a soap opera. Jess, her father, and her twin little brothers are doing their best to manage without Shannon, and it is not easy.

Megan used to Emma’s best friend, but now – since her father sold his invention and became rich – she is a member of the Fab Four. Led by Becca, Megan takes every opportunity to tease Emma and Jess.

Cassidy recently moved to Concord from California and she is furious because there isn’t a girls hockey team that she can join. Not long ago Cassidy’s father died, and her mother decided that the family needed to make a fresh start in a new town. Tomboyish Cassidy is brusque, angry, and unfriendly.

One day Emma’s mother, Megan’s mother, and Cassidy’s mother get talking after their yoga class, and they decide that they should form a mother-daughter book club. They will meet once a month, and the book they are going to read is Little Women by Louis Alcott, who lived in Concord in the 1800’s. The girls are appalled by the idea, but there is nothing much that they can do about it.

At first things don’t go at all well. Megan is clearly the odd girl out, and her situation only gets worse after Becca steals Emma’s journal and reads a poem out of it. Then the Fab Four sabotage Jess’ performance in the school play. Megan’s mother is mortified by this last act of cruelty, and the other members of the club are furious. Surely there is no way the Mother-daughter Book Club will be able to survive after this fiasco, and yet somehow Alcott’s characters reach out to the girls, and together they work on building a new group.

In this unique book, Heather Vogel Frederick tells the story of the four girls using alternating chapters to describe what is going in their lives. The girls have their own unique voices, which allows us to get to know them as distinct individuals.

Packed with middle school dramas, triumphs, and disasters, this is the first book in what promises to be a thoroughly delightful series.