Cover Image: The Kate In Between

The Kate In Between

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Member Reviews

A good mid-grade read. Covers important topics like bullying, best friendships gone awry, and staying true to yourself. I would recommend it to readers in my library.
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Important and relatable—a great choice for discussion in a book group or classroom setting. This was a thoughtful, realistic portrait of seventh grade Kate, who is not defined by a single moment.
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Kate's life isn't easy, but her family is hanging in there. Her parents were still in high school when she was born, so are much younger than her classmates' parents. They divorced when she was young, and she has lived with her mother, who is currently involved in selling True U cosmetics, an Amway or Lularoe type business which requires her to buy her own product and recruit others to sell as well.  She has just moved to be closer to the corporate headquarters so that she can make Diamond level, leaving Kate to live with her father, a police officer, is his cramped apartment, where she is sleeping on a pull out couch in his office. She's been friends with Haddie for years, but recently Haddie has begun to annoy her. She's loud, she wears weird clothes, and she doesn't care what anyone thinks of her. Kate has become friends with the popular Taylor, which she enjoys because she knows that if Taylor is talking TO her, she's not talking ABOUT her, since Taylor is often mean. When Kate is hanging out with Taylor and her friends and they give Haddie a hard time about a hat she is wearing, tossing it about and keeping it away from her, Kate reflexively steps in, grabs the hat, and takes it out of play... by tossing it out onto the ice. When Haddie goes to retrieve it, she falls through the ice and is saved by Kate. Taylor takes a video of it and shares it with the news media, who hail Kate as a hero. Kate's mom fans the flames of this, and Kate finds herself the center of much unwanted attention. She knows what she did and feels awful about it, but the situation is allowing her to reconnect with Haddie while she is still friends with Taylor, which seems like the best of both worlds. She and Haddie end up going to California to be interviewed by a popular celebrity, and for a while, Kate thinks that things will be okay. Of course, they aren't. Taylor gets angry and retaliates by showing the REST of the video, which clearly shows Kate throwing the hat on the ice. The backlash from Haddie and the community is hard to deal with, especially when Kate also finds out that her mother's business is failing, and she is back in town but hasn't told Kate about it. Will Kate, with the help of her loving and sensible father, be able to weather this storm and find a way forward?
Strengths: There are so many small things that make this book a stand out. I've had many students over the years with very young parents (You can have a 12 year old and be 28. It happens.), but I haven't really seen this reflected in the literature. Like Claire in Walker's Why Can't I Be You, Kate is a bit ashamed of her home, and feels bad that she can't have "nice" clothes. Her father drops her off at school in his police car, which is embarrassing, and her mother tries to recruit other mothers to sell Tru U, and causes Kate to move from apartment to apartment. Because of the instability in her home life, Kate is glad to have Taylor's positive attention, and is ready to sacrifice her relationship with Haddie to get it. Still, she likes Haddie, enjoys being with her, and feels bad about how she is treating her. Still, survival is key in middle school, and Kate feels that the only way to survive is to leave Haddie behind. The addition of a bout with celebrity will definitely appeal to tween readers as well. The emotions in this one are raw and real, and so much more common than students grieving the death of a parent/sibling/friend. While this author's What Happens Next, was interesting in a quiet way, The Kate in Between is a fresh and riveting slice of middle school life. 
Weaknesses: Not really a weakness, but a thought. This also put me in mind of Walker's Let's Pretend We Never Met, and made me think about Haddie's position. At the end of 7th grade, my friend Jenny completely ghosted me, but I sort of understood. I definitely marched to the beat of my own marimba in middle school, and I knew she was embarrassed by me. I would love to see a book from the point of view of a middle schooler who is left behind like Haddie, and Swinarski could do a great job with a book like that. I could have used a book like that to help me rein in my exuberant... differences.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing a copy, and the friend drama will make this immediately popular with my students. Love the cover as well!
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A bullying incident made public  makes first a hero, then a villain, out of 7th grade Kate. Already struggling with an uncertain home life and her self-absorbed  mother’s absence, Kate finds herself stuck in between her longtime BFF and the queen bee who demands loyalty and attention. Lots of drama to go around, primarily among the girls and their constantly shifting relationships, as well as a caution about the power of social media to create false narratives to satisfy viewer appetites.
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This was an incredible read! This book perfectly captured the changing friendship dynamics that is all too common in middle school, especially for girls. Kate has been accepted by the popular crowd, but at the expense of losing her longest friend, Hattie. After a bullying incident gets horribly out of hand, Kate is thrust into the spot light for saving Hattie. But Kate is haunted by her own participation in the bullying, wondering how she can stay friends with the popular kids and regain her friendship with Hattie. The author did a fantastic job of creating characters whose lives reflect middle school struggles of school, balancing activities, disrupted family lives, and bullying.
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This is such a great look into bullying and what can happen in this day and age when you don't always know that you might be being filmed. 
Kate has a hard time as it is with her parents not together, they have different rules, her mom sells makeup & bothers all the other moms & embarrasses Kate and her dad is a cop. 
When Kate finally makes it with the "in crowd" she leaves her best friend Haddie behind and actually becomes one of the ones who bullies her. 
In a freak Insta Kate throws Haddie's hat on an icy lake and when Haddie goes to get it she falls through and Kate saves her. But in the process Kate doesn't totally tell the truth that it was her who threw it. When the truth does come out things blowup all around her. 
I thought the ending was really great though and how the whole situation was handled. 
Really great characters and great story. A must read for any middle schooler and their parents and any other adults in their life.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC!
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I loved THE KATE IN BETWEEN. The voice of Kate sucked me in right away to her story and I found her predicament fascinating.  There were lots of twists and turns for Kate and her friendships that she wishes to strengthen.  I also loved the way the author described Kate's parents. Kate's voice was so compelling and I found myself rooting for her to tell the truth. I think many will be able to relate  to Kate's journey of staying true to oneself, I couldn't put this book down! It hooked me in from the first page.
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It was a great book and would recommend reading it. Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read it.
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This book was an ok story about the many ways bullying happens and how being a bystander is just as bad. Middle schoolers will find this book compelling and I will likely recommend it to students looking for realistic friend-drama stories. As a reviewer who has read a lot of books with similar themes, this one just doesn’t stand out for me unfortunately. I appreciate the publisher providing this book to me free in exchange for my honest opinion.
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