Susie B. Won’t Back Down

Atheneum. Dec. 2021. 272p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534496361.
Gr 4-6–A sassy, no-nonsense epistolary novel about a girl who knows her own mind and isn’t afraid to share her opinions. Fifth grader Susie B. chooses Susan B. Anthony for her Hero Project because she believes her to be a “brave and determined defender of women’s rights.” The Hero Project involves writing directly to her hero in a journal, and consequently readers learn about Susan B. Anthony’s life through Susie B.’s musings. When Susie decides to run for student council president against the “usual geniuses” (the kids she believes the teachers think are perfect), much fifth-grade drama ensues, most caused by Susie herself. Susie and her peers share a realization as they learn more about their heroes—that all people have flaws despite their achievements. Susie B. comes to terms with the reality of Susan B. Anthony, the student council election, and friendship issues in ways realistic and appropriate for a fifth grader.
VERDICT This novel is perfect for discussions in small groups or a classroom setting and will join the ranks of other great realistic fiction books like Alesha Dixon’s Lightning Girl, and Holly Goldberg Sloan’s Counting by 7s. A must-have for any middle grade collection.

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