#925 – Hundred Percent by Karen Romano Young

hundredpercentcover2016 Hundred Percent
Written by Karen Romano Young
Chronicle Books    8/09/2016
978-1-4521-3890-9
296 pages    Ages 10 +

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“It’s Tink’s last year of elementary school, the year before junior high. And Tink, by the way, is a nickname she’s always had, but these days it’s just not feeling right. She’s too tall for it now, or too long, or too old. Too something. So—who is she then?

“Every single thing seems like trouble: the picture day outfit gone many ways wrong, the sleepover with the girl she hasn’t even hung out with, the best friend she knows better than anyone but suddenly feels different with. All those things that maybe look small when you list the but are actually huge when you’re living them. It’s all just everyday. It’s all just drama. But what will it take for Tink to get to the point where she feels a hundred percent herself?” [inside jacket]

Review
Christine Gouda, aka as Tink (short for Tinker Bell), is starting sixth grade; the last year of elementary school; the year before middle school; the year nothing feels right. Tink is the tallest in her class and still growing. She physically stands out but somehow also disappears. She is optimistic about this school year though quickly things fall apart. Jackie, Tink’s best friend since “forever,” has become concerned with being in the circle of “right” kids, looking like them, and acting like them. Jackie is more mature than Tink and becomes “boy crazy.” Though Jackie is pulling away from Tink, she is afraid to move on without her friend, so Jackie pulls Tink into the circle. Tink just does not belong and knows this—but where does she belong and by what name should she call herself?

Romano Young writes an excellent story about the difficulties of growing up when not everyone matures at the same pace. Written from Tink’s point of view, Romano Young gives readers an authentic look into the beginnings of cliquish behavior and discerning where one belongs. The year before the challenging middle grade years brings with it issues of, appearance, girl-boy relationships, peer pressure, and Tink’s confusion with all of it. Tink is a wonderful female protagonist and a reliable narrator who keeps the reader—boys and girls—emotionally involved as she struggles with finding herself and becoming comfortable with that person.

Kids will enjoy and might just see themselves in one of Romano Young’s well developed, interesting, and fun characters. There is Matthew, aka Bushwhack, the “class clown” who is good at slinging insults disguised as regular words (e.g. “you eject button,” “you paper cutter,” “you doorbell”). Teachers ban his most famous made-up word, “bushwah,” but kids use it incognito by saying “two words.” Debbie is the new kid who lives on a huge farm with beautiful horses, but not all is what it seems. Bobby, Jesse’s son, completely confuses and complicates Jackie’s life— or maybe, it is she who confuses his life. Will, Mitze, Maggie, Jonas, and Keith, are the “in circle” kids, and can be as mean as any middle grade bully can.

And then there is Jackie, Tink’s best friend since “forever.” Tink must decide if and where her childhood friend fits into her life. The direction Jackie takes complicates Tink’s struggle with where she belongs and who she is. When two close friends mature at different rates, someone is often left behind. Tink feels like that someone.

Hundred Percent is an enjoyable and perceptive look at the pre-teen years. What does it mean to be “in” or “out?” What if you are “in,” but you like someone who is “out?” How important is the name people call you? When does a childhood nickname need to dropped, and how does that happen? Tink struggles with all of this and does so realistically. Romano Young writes as if she is in the rafters, jotting down the lives of these kids as it happens. Every character has punch and verve. Every character finds a way into Tink’s life adding layers for her to discover. Kids will relate, if not to Tink, to one of these kids. Adults reading Hundred Percent will easily recall their year as an eleven-year-old-about-to-be-twelve.

Who should read Hundred Percent?
If you are looking for a wonderfully perceptive, humorous middle grade story about defining oneself when everything is suddenly awkward and definitions sway with each passing month, Hundred Percent is for you. If curious about how one grows up when caught between being a girl and becoming a woman, and unsure which way to turn, Hundred Percent is for you. If you simply love astute middle grade stories with charm, humor, and well-developed characters, Hundred Percent is for you, too. Mostly, Hundred Percent should be required reading for all six-graders—before middle grade comes crashing in upon them.

HUNDRED PERCENT. Text copyright © 2016 by Karen Romano Young. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

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Find Hundred Percent on Goodreads HERE.

Karen Romano Young:  http://www.karenromanoyoung.com/
Follow on Twitter          @DoodlebugKRY
Winner of 2016 Green Earth Book Award for National Geographic Kids Mission: Sea Turtle Rescue

Chronicle Books:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
Follow on Twitter          @ChronicleKids        @ChronicleBooks

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Copyright © 2016 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

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Hundred Percent
Written by Karen Romano Young
Chronicle Books 8/09/2016
9781452138909

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