Keep It Together, Keiko Carter

Readers of Wendy Maas, Wendelin Van Draanen, and Sarah Dessen will also likely enjoy Keep It Together, Keiko Carter by Debbi Michiko Florence.  The title character, Keiko Carter, is looking forward to seventh grade with her two besties: Jenna Sakai and Audrey Lassiter.  However, their long-standing friendship is rocked by changing interests and complications with dates to the Fall Ball.

Boy-obsessed fashionista, Audrey is a fan of online quizzes, yoga, and the spotlight, while Jenna is more interested in journalism, study habits, the honors track, and quiet moments. Caught in the middle, chocolate-loving Keiko is a fixer.  Because she prefers a conflict-free life, she tries to keep harmony and happiness flourishing in both her friend group and her family.

When Keiko’s mother’s new job consumes an inordinate amount of her time, making her unavailable for advice, Keiko finds herself worrying, settling more disputes than she can manage, and picking up the slack at home with her little sister, Macy.  Feeling overwhelmed, left out, and left behind as life changes around her, Keiko fights for familiarity, clinging to memories of laughing and talking and planning and sharing.

Fearing that her parents might be candidates for divorce, Keiko yearns for a dog—someone to be there for her since dogs are less complicated than people.

As life crumbles around her and she wonders whether friendships can survive flirting and first crushes, Keiko learns that even clear choices don’t mean easy decisions.  With comfort and courage derived from Yuki, a bichon frise mixed breed, she learns to speak up for herself and her personal happiness.  She also realizes that disagreements and fights are common in any human relationship but that forgiveness and making up are possible.

  • Posted by Donna

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