Maybe He Just Likes You

S. & S./Aladdin. Oct. 2019. 304p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534432376.
Gr 4-8–The first time the group of boys asked for hugs, seventh grader Mila felt uncomfortable. As the requests for hugs and unwanted touches increase in frequency, Mila does not know where to turn. Her mother is going through a tough time herself, and Mila doesn’t want to add to her stress. Some of her friends brush off her complaints of unwanted attention as flirting. When Mila finds out that touching her has become a game to the boys and attempts to confront them, they deny action and intent. Her initial efforts to get help from staff at her school are met with heartbreakingly minimized responses. This relatable text provides young readers with a believable example of what sexual harassment may look and feel like at a middle school level. Dee creates a varied cast of characters with evolving perspectives, including adults who were initially dismissive of Mila’s harassment. Told from Mila’s point of view, the novel is at its best in moments of emotional intensity. Mila’s reaction to her situation sometimes surprises even herself, when her initial doubts and fear turn to rage. Mila ultimately finds tools and allies who help resolve her situation, though the conclusion seems speedy compared to the rest of the story.
VERDICT An important read with great potential for classroom use. Mila’s experience may resonate with young readers, who may need to follow up with a trusted adult.

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