Summary: Well, That Was Awkward
Well, That Was Awkward is a Cyrano De Begerac-esque retelling which follows four middle-schoolers: Gracie, A.J, Sienna, and Emmet. While all four have been friends for a while, the two girls, Gracie and Sienna are best friends, as are both boys. But, Gracie and Emmet have known each other since they were in kindergarten and also live in the same building.
Things get awkward when Gracie begins to notice A.J (as happens in that middle-school age). Unfortunately, though, A.J likes her friend Sienna — who Gracie thinks is more attractive than Gracie herself. But because Sienna is painfully, shuts-down-and-cant-speak shy, Gracie handles most of the text conversations between A.J and Sienna — unbeknownst to A.J. Of course, this set up doesn’t last long and things erupt into a messy situation.
This book was so much fun! It’s not a strict Cyrano retelling as Ariel Kaplan’s We Are the Perfect Girl (which is YA), but it’s as close as can be for middle school. Gracie is a funny — sometimes too self-deprecatory, but she works on this — girl. I loved her friendship with Sienna and Emmet. It’s just nice to see friends be nice and understanding and show up for each other, because middle-school friendships can be stressful and toxic.
Another part of the plot often overlooked is Gracie’s and her parents’ grief about her older sister’s death. Their over-protectiveness and sometimes negligence of Gracie are often as a result of that grief.
Something else I enjoyed was listening to this on audio. I was hesitant to do audio because at least 20% of the book is in text messages — those can make for confusing audiobook experiences. But the audio is really good — there’s actually a “ding” sound heralding all text conversations, which makes it easier to keep up.
Other fun, unique things about this book:
- Many laugh-out-loud moments in the character’s dialogue and Gracie’s thoughts.
- Set in Manhattan, New York — the kids live in an apartment complex! That’s rare in middle-grade books.
- Emmet actually acts in plays — he’s like a theater prodigy or something.
- Gracie gets a pet turtle at some point.
Overall: Well, That Was Awkward
I’d highly recommend Well, That Was Awkward to anyone looking for humorous middle-grade books. Bonus points if you enjoy Cyrano retellings, kids in plays, or books set in NYC. This novel will fill you with nostalgia for middle-school (or not) and the abundant drama and miscommunications.
Buy This Book
More Middle-Grade Reviews
- Focused by Alyson Gerber
- Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson
- The Friendship Lie by Rebecca Donnelly
Have you read this book or any other FUNNY middle-grade books? I’m eager to read Vail’s debut, Unfriended. Does this book sound like something you’d enjoy? Please leave any similar recommendations for me in the comments!