Book review: Book Review: Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee

Last year, this was the Loudoun County 1book1community pick, and I grabbed a copy after we had excess in our school library. I had forgotten about it until now. It’s about a seventh grader, so that gives you an idea about the target age range. To me, it was odd to choose a book for a younger readership when it’s meant for the whole community. It was an easy read, and I finished it in about two sittings. That said, the topic is an important one that everyone should be aware of.

The book centers on a girl named Mila, who is starting to develop, attracting the unwanted attention of a group of boys at school, who, it turns out, are playing a game in which they earn points for hugging or touching her. To make matters worse, he mom seems to be having problems at work, and the family is short on money, so Mila’s options for clothing are limited.

What the book helps to illustrate is how an event like that—boys acting sinister behind the scenes and behind the view of adults—can spiral out of control. For instance, at one point, Mila reacts by kicking, and that is what the teacher saw (not what the boys did that led to her feeling the need to kick), and Mila was the one who was punished, not the boys.

What I enjoyed was that Mila found an activity that provided her strength in numerous ways—martial arts—to help build her confidence and give her the respect she deserved. It’s a fast read, and it’s important for all ages to read. For those in the seventh grade (or nearing seventh grade) age bracket, it’s important for kids to know that this type of behavior is called sexual harassment. For those who are older, it’s important to be reminded of the types of things that kids go through—and to remember that things might be happening behind the scenes.

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