I'm sure this will be a fine book, but I definitely will not have time to get to the story before the archive date happens, in which case I will not be able to give my feedback. That would negatively impact my response ratio, which is not good, as I already missed out on giving feedback on so many books because this year has been so absolutely busy and stressful that I have not had the time nor mental capacity to get to many of these books before they are gone forever! It is as upsetting for both sides. I apologize, but I will do better for the future! I am appreciative that I have been giving access to so many great new releases.
Just Lizzie, by Karen Wilfrid, is a lovely middle grade contemporary following Lizzie, an 8th grader dealing with a lot of changes in her life. Her family just had to move neighborhoods after a traumatic experience with a neighbor, her brother moved to college, and she is surrounded by friends who are all having their first romantic experiences while she feels completely alien, never having had a crush. When she learns about asexuality, she finally feels like she fits, but navigating that self-discovery and trying to share that part of her identity with those close to her proves difficult.
As an aspec person, I am so grateful that this book exists. I can't even begin to imagine what it will mean to the ace kids who encounter a word that fits them for the first time.
Many things about this book were done extremely well. It's an extremely character-driven story, and that's reflected in the care given to character development, not just for Lizzie, but also to figures like her best friend and her brother. Every character in the story feels very real and human—you may not like them all the time (indeed, I couldn't help but dislike a few of them), but they feel alive in a way that I don't often see, particularly in middle-grade books that are fundamentally limited by a younger narrating voice.
Lizzie is a compelling and relatable protagonist. Her character development, not just in response to her discovery asexuality but also in regards to the rest of the story, is palpable and believable. She reads exactly like an 8th grader who's just starting to figure herself out—she doesn't know everything, but she's starting to figure out how to navigate the world. I felt for her so much, in all of her uncertainty and self-doubt, and I just know that she'll be such an important character to so many readers.
The focus on community and changing friendships is also done well; Lizzie is learning who she can rely on, and old friendships are being tested by the changing social world that comes towards the end of middle school. While Lizzie's journey with asexuality will be particularly important for young queer kids, I think that this aspect of the story is something that will be relatable and comforting for almost every kid reading it.
I think that the asexuality plot was handled and explained well, although I wish that there had been a little more exploration of the differences between asexuality and aromanticism; this book will likely be a first exposure to asexuality for most people, and I think clarifying those terms would have been a little better, especially since Lizzie's experiences seemed very in line with both identities, but the book sticks strictly to her identifying as ace. I think that the asexuality plot was done well and in an age-appropriate way, but I just wish there'd been a little more exploration of the two terms for the sake of readers being introduced to the identities.
My only fundamental critique of the story was that I don't think that the plot line with their old neighbor was necessary or helpful to the plot—the other story lines all built together well to complement and enhance Lizzie's self-discovery and character growth, but I truly could not figure out what the book was trying to do with that plot line. It feels out of place and doesn't make much sense with the rest of the book. It was written okay, but not with the same execution and skill with which the rest of the story was written.
Overall, though, I cannot recommend Just Lizzie enough. I still can't fully believe that this book exists; I'm so grateful for it, and I know it will mean the world to so many people. I would recommend this to anybody; even if you aren't usually a fan of middle grade fiction, this is such a well-written story of asexuality that I truly think everybody should read it. I'm giving it 4.5 stars, taking off half a star only for the few minor critiques described above.
Just Lizzie is an incredibly heartwarming and authentic middle grade story about a girl discovering asexuality while also navigating the regular trials and tribulations of middle school.
The author is a middle school English teacher, and she absolutely NAILS the voice of 8th graders. There's the perfect representation of the push and pull of feeling grown up and also feeling terrified that you're not grown up enough yet while everyone else is. There's care and nuance put into all of the characters and relationships, though my favorite was definitely Lizzie and her best friend Sarah Nan. Even though they're so different from each other, and they get into fights and misunderstandings throughout the book, there's also a deep respect and mutual history between them that felt so honest and true. All the mother-daughter relationships felt that way too - imperfect, but also modeling healthy ways to have conversations together. I teared up at least twice.
A key part of Lizzie's coming-of-age is her discovery of asexuality and her grappling with how she might identify. There are so few books that have asexual/ace representation in general, but none that I know of that discuss it at a middle grade level, and I'm so thrilled that this now exists. I wish I had this book when I was in eighth grade.
There's also a lot of navigation around the loneliness that comes with puberty, middle school, and the natural changes that happen with friendships during that time. Again, Wilfrid really nailed the nuances.
This is a book written for and about middle schoolers, but don't let that stop you if you're not in that target audience - I think it's perfect for middle school and up. Regardless of your sexuality, I think there's something in Just Lizzie that so many people will be able to relate to. I utterly adored this and will be recommending it to all kinds of people!
Just Lizzie by Karen Wilfrid is a moving debut that resonated with me as an ace reader. This story is full of difficult issues like sexuality, stalking, domestic violence, and mental health issues but it is also a beautiful exploration of a middle school searching for identity and reason in an uncomfortable world. Lizzie is a curious child with neurodivergent coding who is trying to work through a recent traumatic event and find her place in the world. The author approaches her discovery of asexuality with such care and understanding and I feel like Lizzie will have support and love in her future.
Oh my goodness, I loved this book. Lizzie was an absolute joy to read and being inside her head definitely brought me back to some things about being a 14 year old girl. The journey Lizzie went through of learning about herself and asexuality was so beautiful and at times, messy, but isn’t that what life is? I also really liked the intricacies of her friendship with Sarah Nan and how true it felt to friendships between young girls. The author’s note at the end was really lovely and I liked that she included resources for asexuality and aromaticism. I think this is a really important book on a subject that we need more discussion and visibility on. I think having Lizzie be 14 was perfect as her questions about asexuality were really juxtaposed against her friends who were all concerned with their crushes. A very well done book that I absolutely recommend.
Thank you to NetGalley and Clarion Books for an advanced digital reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.
Just Lizzie is a book I wish I had growing up. As Lizzie works to understand herself, her changing friendships, and the world around her, she brings readers along on her journey. Thoughtfully written and poignant, each character feels genuine in their actions and feelings. This book is for anyone who wonders about their place in the world, especially when they feel like they are seeing life in a very different way. I would encourage libraries to include it in their collections. I know I will be buying it for my school.
I got an ARC of this book.
It was ok. It wasn't the best book out there or the worst. It was pretty basic ace 101 sort of stuff, which is exciting to see in a middle grade book. It just felt weird seeing the topic come up from asexual reproduction, the exact topic that makes the aphobic jokes start.
There was a lot going on. Lizzie clearly needed therapy and a lot more support than she was getting. So even though I was excited for the ace stuff, home invasion stuff is scary and felt thrown on to the coming of age sort of plot. Mix that in with all her complicated feelings around her brother and her friend and it felt like a bit too much.
Lizzie has been feeling insecure ever since her old neighbor tried to break into her old home, and even though her family has moved to the other side of town, she can't help but worry. Meanwhile, her friends are going on about crushes and boyfriends, and even her brother, who is leaving for college, isn't immune from the persistent sex drive. But Lizzie isn't feeling it. When she finds the word "asexual" and discovers it means a person who doesn't experience sexual attraction, things finally start to make sense. Unfortunately, no one seems to know what the word means or believe that a 14-year-old can give up on romance. Lizzie didn't have a lot of confidence to begin with, but without some special help, she worries she might just end up alone.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story! I loved following Lizzie as she figured out her sexuality, tackled the ever changing friendships of middle school, learned self defense, and adapted to her life in a new house without her older brother after an incident. It was nice seeing a protagonist go through the same things I did in the eighth grade, feeling like your friends are leaving you behind to grow up. Ah, the tribulations of slowly coming to terms with your sexuality.
Lizzie's life is in considerable turmoil as she starts eighth grade. Her beloved big brother is off at college now. She had to move house due to an awful neighbor. Her best friend Sarah Nan has gone boy crazy. Lizzie just doesn't see the appeal of boys, or girls either. When Lizzie comes across the concept of asexuality in science class, it strikes a chord. She hopes to use her report on asexuality in plants and animals to explore and explain her own identity, but it's not easy. A moving coming-of-age story that's helps fill a major gap in representation.
Loved this middle grade novel that features an 8th grader coming to terms with her own sexuality at her own pace. Lizzie felt real to me as an 8th grade teacher and knowing the author is also a teacher probably helped with that :) I would definitely recommend to students and will be purchasing a copy for my shelves where it will stay until some Tennessee parent challenges it! 🙂
I'm a sucker for coming of age, self-discovery type books, and this one won my heart. So many of Lizzie's thoughts and experiences mirrored my own pubescent understanding of my asexuality and existing in my body. I ended up highlighting so many passages while reading. I'm glad to see more asexual representation in younger and younger kids books, and I think the exploration of this topic blends well with the other struggles that Lizzie faces.
3.75/5 - Really nice to see ace representation in middle grade - it's something that was sorely lacking in books when I was Lizzie's age. Her self-discovery process mirrored what I went through in college. Some parts felt a little clunky/heavy-handed, but I still sat and read it in one morning, and would recommend it to curious teens and pre-teens.
I really enjoyed this book! In the beginning I felt sort of icky about the way Lizzie's asexuality was portrayed as a lack of something, but I think as the book went along she realized how she can have beautiful and fulfilling relationships as an asexual person, and also that while experiencing romantic/sexual attraction doesn't make someone fundamentally different/worse than they were before experiencing it, she can still grow into a full human being without it.
I also like that she had some positive reactions to her identity from her family, and that she found a new friend who feels similarly to how she does. I also appreciate that the book name dropped AVEN multiple times a resource for real kids/teens reading this book.
This book definitely had the occasionally melodramatic vibe that middle grade/lower YA has, which for me takes away a star or two but I think is perfect for the actual audience of the book. It also came across as didactic at certain points, but as this is one of the lesser known queer identities, those moments were necessary on some level.
Asexuality is presented very well here, with all the gradience uniquely characteristic of this orientation: the possibility of future partnership remains open because while Lizzie knows she is asexual, she is also young and learning about what that means for her. "Just Lizzie" is a delight to read, with strong prose and character growth (although I'll confess to wishing that Michael, our obnoxiously juvenile protagonist, had demonstrated more self-reflection after being scolded).
I really enjoyed this book! Lizzie's relationship with who she is is a really nice journey and I enjoyed reading about it. I also enjoyed the other characters and the way that she learns to be true to herself.
"Just Lizzie" is a wonderful middle grade novel that includes many of the enduring topics that make middle grade fiction appealing to upper elementary and middle school readers -- family drama, conflicts with friends and peers, the confusions and humiliations of puberty, and explorations of identity. Wilfrid relates these topics with an authentic voice and many details about middle school behavior that make the novel ring true. But what makes this book go above being just another moving story about that pivotal time in our lives is that the author introduces a protagonist who is struggling with her sexual identity as an asexual (ace), which hasn’t been covered very much in middle grade fiction.
For many kids, middle school is a time for intense crushes, and this is true for Lizzy’s best friend and other girls she knows. But Lizzy doesn’t have these feelings and can’t figure out why. As she begins to understand her identity, she experiences a range of other emotions -- confusion about what being ace means for her future, a yearning to share her identity with others, fear that others will laugh at or disbelieve her. Lizzie’s journey to self-acceptance is painful and palpable, but ultimately inspiring.
This book is important because the “A” (asexual/aromantic) identities in LGBTQIA+ are not really discussed or acknowledged much, even in adult circles. And there is very little fiction that features asexual characters, especially for this age group.
As a middle school librarian, I’ve been on the lookout for books like "Just Lizzy" ever since I had a student ask me a few years ago if we had any books in our library on asexual/aromantic characters. We did not, so we searched and found a few that featured asexual characters, but they were all either YA or adult books. I’m happy to know that this middle grade book is now available because it fills a need as both a mirror where ace kids can see themselves, and as a window to understanding for those who are not.
In addition to the middle school ace representation that is brought into this book, the story follows several different plot points that come together in a satisfying way by the end of the book.
I highly recommend "Just Lizzie"! Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the eBook ARC that I’m basing this review on.
Reading Just Lizzie by Karen Wilfrid, I found so much to appreciate, among them a beautiful expression for a belief in the interconnectedness of life. And I found so much personal relevance in Lizzie’s experiences as well. As a reader on the autism spectrum, I do have one wishful question: is it possible that Lizzie is autistic? My appreciation to the publisher and to NetGalley for an advance digital copy of this book.
Just Lizzie is an incredibly poignant middle grade novel about a girl who is trying to understand herself better and her place within a dating-obsessed world. Wilfrid does an incredible job accurately portraying the internal struggles of a young teen who has never experienced attraction to another person, and the anxiety comes along with feeling broken and lonely. Through discovering asexuality, Lizzie learns more about herself and the different types of relationships she can have with others. I would absolutely recommend this book to teens who find themselves struggling to relate to their peers.
Lizzie's life is changing in ways she's unprepared for and doesn't want: her family moved into a new house, her older brother went off to college, and she's surrounded by love and romance. All Lizzie wants is for things to stay the same -- and for people to stop telling her that one day she too will become focused on love. As she connects with the concept of asexuality, she understands that there is truly nothing wrong with her. But she still needs to learn to be confident in herself and value the community of friends and loved ones she is a part of.
Just Lizzie is a charming story of preteen growth and self-exploration. Lizzie learns about herself, how to be a good friend and strong self-advocate, and what she wants from life. I enjoyed getting to know the characters, and got really wrapped up in the story.