Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 13
- Grade: 4 to 7
- Reading age: 9 to 13
Suze Tamaki's life gets turned upside down when her mother suddenly reappears after a ten-year absence. Once Suze gets over her initial cynicism, she thinks it might be cool to get to know her mom. But her older sister Tracie – who has been as much mother as sister at times – is determined to make Suze’s life a misery for even considering it. At school things aren’t much better, as one of her teachers decides the way to cure her apathy about class is to move her into Honors English – a development Suze finds both inspiring and distressing. When she's paired with straight-A student Amanda on an English assignment, she finds herself caring about people’s expectations like she’s never done before.
About the author
Joëlle Anthony is a playwright, actress, writing teacher, and author of three novels for teens, Restoring Harmony, The Right & the Real and Speed of Life, published under the pen name J. M. Kelly. She enjoys teaching workshops to writers of all ages, and has been the Writer in Residence at Gabriola Elementary School for six years in British Columbia, where she lives.
- Short-listed, Chocolate Lily Awards (BC's Reader's Choice Children's Book Award)
- Commended, Ontario Library Association's 2018 Best Bets
- Short-listed, IODE Violet Downey Book Award
- Commended, VOYA Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers
- Commended, Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books for Kids and Teens - Fall 2017
January 16, 2017
Suze Tamaki was three years old when her mother, Caroline, walked out on the family. Now, 10 years later, Caroline has returned to Victoria, B.C., ready to get to know Suze and her older sister, Tracie. After Caroline left, Tracie and Suze made a pact, promising never to speak to their mother again. Suze is secretly curious about Caroline, but Tracie is holding her to their promise, so Suze keeps her meetings with Caroline a secret. Suze is also balancing problems with friends and at school: Suze keeps getting sent to the office, and her grades are average at best, though Suze’s English teacher sees her potential, moving her into an honors class. Anthony’s (The Right & the Real) characters, both central and secondary, are fully dimensional, and Suze and Caroline’s frustrations are realistically portrayed as they make awkward attempts at a fresh start (such as when Caroline unthinkingly gives Suze a gift basket that includes a bottle of Prosecco). Suze’s dry—borderline sardonic—narration makes for thoroughly entertaining reading as Anthony sympathetically explores the vulnerability of the early teen years. Ages 9–13.
Suze Tamaki is a Grade 7 slacker whose wry observations about the world around her make her both loveable and relatable.
Quill & Quire
Anthony’s characters, both central and secondary, are fully dimensional, and Suze and Caroline’s frustrations are realistically portrayed as they make awkward attempts at a fresh start... Suze’s dry—borderline sardonic—narration makes for thoroughly entertaining reading as Anthony sympathetically explores the vulnerability of the early teen years.
Joëlle Anthony’s has written a complex and heartwarming story that focuses on the impact of parental abandonment, complicated family relationships and healing. There is a great cast of quirky characters, who are believable and well-crafted.
Children's Books Heal
Suze is believable, funny and appealing. Early teen readers (9-12) will identify with the misdemeanours that keep her a frequent visitor to the principal’s office and with her efforts to understand a mother she hasn’t seen since she was two.
Winnipeg Free Press
A solid story that explores themes of family, abandonment, and belonging.
[Joëlle Anthony] has created an engaging narrator bound to resonate with readers. Suze is half Anglo, half Japanese, and a Canadian tween through and through. Her missteps, hesitations, and assumptions are universal, and when she faces her toughest challenges, she takes messy but brave leaps that leave her a little more mature than the day before.
A Month of Mondays is an intensely readable novel. It is full of fun, bright and natural dialogue. It has a lovable underdog narrator, someone to whom many readers will relate. Highly Recommended.
CM: Canadian Review of Materials
It’s nice to see a kid who neither has it all together or sits at the bottom of the heap... Suze is probably more like most kids, at neither extreme but somewhere in the middle, just trying to make sense of the people and circumstances of her life. She may not always choose well–her recurrent trips to the principal’s office attest to that–and may get distracted and discouraged but she keeps on plugging away.... And Joëlle Anthony ensures the reader comes away with a lesson in stick-with-it-ness, demonstrating that things always resolve themselves somehow, sometimes more and sometimes less positively than you might imagine.
CanLit for Little Canadians
Readers will discover that Suze Tamaki is a courageous and admirable heroine who gives them insight into what it is really like to be in middle school.