Monday, September 16, 2019

Maybe He Just Likes You- A Review and ARC Giveaway

After watching Colby Sharp's YouTube  recommendation of Barbara Dee's newest book, Maybe He Just Likes You (Simon and Schuster), I knew I wanted to read it. 

As I mentioned to Ms. Dee when I connected with her on Facebook, it's a book that I both love and hate. I love it because it is written so well. I hate it because it deals so honestly with a topic-- sexual harassment--that no 7th grader should have to think about or deal with.  


Barbara Dee doesn't waste time. Right off the bat, the protagonist, Mila, receives unwelcome attention from Callum. He and his three friends (all basketball players) join a circle of friendship Mila and her friends created to celebrate their friend Omi's birthday. After singing "Happy Birthday" Callum continues to hug Mila. 
I wriggled my shoulders, but Callum's hand was squeezing. And I am not leaving.
Now I could feel my armpits getting damp. (p. 7)
From that uncomfortable encounter onward, Callum and his friends continue to harass Mila. Zara dismisses the incidents as the boys just being friendly and/or Mila being a baby or flirting with them. Omi fails to support Mila. Her fourth friend, Max, sees the bullying and recommends she talk to the assistant principal. But since he is also the basketball coach, Mila is reluctant to bring him into the picture. 

At the same time that Mila is experiencing increased unwanted attention and physical contact from the boys, her divorced mother loses her job and the family experiences financial stress. Mila can't confide in her mother and feels alone. Her one source of comfort--playing her trumpet--doesn't give her the normal "blue sky feeling" since Callum is in the school band and things seem to happen during practice. 

As the book progresses, Mila gets to know Samira, a Black star clarinetest, who observes the unwanted attention Mila is receiving. Here is an interchange between the two girls, beginning with Samira:
"If it was me, I wouldn't allow it."  
"You think I allowed it?" 
"I'm just saying, you don't  have to put up with stuff like that, Mila. It's just really wrong, you know?" (p. 56)
Although Mila is validated that the boys' attention is inappropriate, she misunderstands Samira's comment and is left feeling as if all this is her fault.

Mila's mother begins working out a local gym that also has classes for kids. Mila ends up in a karate class where Samira clearly knows how to handle herself. Mila thinks,
How do you get like that? 
knowing what to do, in what order. 
Not thinking. Or not-thinking. 
Not ignoring. And not running away. 
Could I ever do any of that? 
Could one of those girls ever be me? 
As hard as I tried, it was impossible to 
imagine.  (p. 105)
As Mila begins to see that she is a victim of the boys' bullying, she starts reacting--but not always in appropriate ways. Not until she disrupts the band concert and has a heart-to-heart talk with her band teacher, is Mila given words to understand her experience of sexual harassment. Becoming more adept at karate class gives her newfound confidence. In turn, this is translated into stronger thoughts about herself and more forthright communication with others.

I highly recommend Maybe He Just Likes You for both girls and boys; it would be a useful conversation starter in any classroom or family. 


I wrote to Ms. Dee in our Facebook interchange, "I'm over 60. Wish there had been a book like this when I was that age. It would have helped."

She replied, "Totally agree. We never discussed these things and they never got solved."


I am giving away my ARC to one fortunate reader. Leave me a comment (with your email address if you are new to my blog) by September 19 if you want to enter the giveaway. Giveaway limited to continental United States. 


Keturah Lamb said...

Sounds like a powerful book, and love the prose! Please enter me :)


Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Keturah for your comment. Your name starts the list.

Carrie said...

Sounds like a good book to read with my 6th grade daughter.

Carol Baldwin said...

Yes, it would be Carrie. Even if you don't win, I Hope you get it and read it with her.

Brittany (@bibliomatter) said...

So glad I found your blog thanks to your giveaway post on Twitter. I saw on your about page that you're a member of the Women's National Book Association. That's awesome! I had no idea it existed until now. How did you get involved?

My email is Thank you for the giveaway opportunity. Good luck everyone! :)

Carol Baldwin said...

Brittany--Thanks for your comment and email address. I think you may have posted before but not left your name, correct?

Brittany (@bibliomatter) said...

Actually, I think this is the first time I've commented on a "Blogger" blog. My own site is on Squarespace, so I'm not familiar with Blogger. I tried to add my name now, but I'm not sure if it worked.

Danielle H. said...

I enjoy this author's work and this book has a very serious topic that I can't wait to see how the author presents it. Thank you for the chance to read your ARC. dhammelef(at)yahoo(dot)com

Carol Baldwin said...

You are welcome, Danielle. You're in.

Carol Baldwin said...

Now I see you, Brittany. Thanks!

Connie Porter Saunders said...

Carol, I am also over 60 and I experienced some instances that we didn't feel free discussing. Sounds like a great book for the girls in our lives.

Carol Baldwin said...

Yes it is, Connie. I wish this book had been available to us!

Halli Gomez said...

Wow! This sounds like a powerful story. Of course I love that it sounds like karate helps her learn confidence. But overall, it sounds like a book that should be read AND DISCUSSED in all middle schools. (And I hope I win!)

Carol Baldwin said...

If you don't win, Halli, I hope you get it for the young people in your life!

Jilanne Hoffmann said...

I think there are a lot of women who wish this kind of book and frank discussion could have been available 40 years ago. I plan to read this one and cheer on the protagonist!

Carol Gwin Nelson said...

I read the same post by Colby and would love to have my 7th grade granddaughter read it. Of course, as always, Grandma gets to read it first! Lucky for her I'm a fast reader. And yes, if I don't win, I'll still get a copy to share with her ( and her mother who would also want to read it).

Theresa Milstein said...

This is such an important book. Barbara always impresses me with the subject matter she tackles in middle grade--giving voice to those who need it.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thank you Jilane, Carol, and Theresea. I'm impressed with Barbara Dee also--I'll have to check out her other books!

Young Authors Program said...

Wow, this is a tough topic, but it seems to be written very well. I think this would be a great read for any middle schooler.

Carol Baldwin said...

Dorothy, it is very well written. Even if you don't win it, I hope you will read it with your children.

Barbara Dee said...

Thanks, everyone! Not surprising to see that this topic strikes a chord with so many adult women. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts when you've had a chance to read MAYBE! And of course I'd love to hear the reaction of young readers--both girls and boys.

Debbie Allmand said...

This is a must read for kids of all ages. Great review!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Debbie, I agree.

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carol,
Thank you for posting a review of Barbara Dee's book, Maybe He Just Likes You. This book seems like it is very compassionate and a good way to stop bullying and harassment early on.

Do something fun before midnight.
You don't want to wait another day without having fun.

Never Give Up

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Joan, You're in the giveaway!

Rosi said...

I'm so far behind on my email I missed the giveaway, but I definitely am putting this one on my TBR list. Thanks for telling me about it.

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