Last year, I read and loved Suzanne LaFleur's Love, Aubrey. In fact, it broke my heart into teeny tiny little pieces. So when I heard of Eight Keys, Suzanne's latest book, I absolutely jumped at the chance to read and review it. There's something so heartbreaking and beautiful about Suzanne LaFleur's writing style and it is no different with this her latest book, Eight Keys.
Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur is the story of Elise, who lives with her aunt and uncle after both of her parents died when she was very little. She and her best friend Franklin love having swordfights and pretending to be knights and catching frogs and doing sciencey things together. But everything seems to change as they both begin middle school.
Elise has to share a locker with the really mean, Amanda, who calls her names and squashes her lunch every day. Amanda makes fun of Elise and her relationship with Franklin, who the other kids think of as slightly strange. And at the same time as this bullying from Amanda, Elise feels under pressure to keep up with the added responsibilities and schoolwork that comes with middle school.
Though Elise has this great support system, with friends like Franklin and her aunt and uncle and a close family friend, Elise doesn't really let anyone around her know how much she's suffering at school or the feeling of dread she feels at the thought of sharing a locker with Amanda. In fact, she pulls away from her only friend, Franklin and really shuts him out. It's only through the letters that her dad wrote to her before he died and the keys which he leaves her that open up mysterious rooms in her barn that help Elise to become more confident in herself to stand up to her bully as well as to appreciate the people in her life, including herself.
I really loved this book. I think bullying is a very important topic to address and that it is incredibly important in those difficult transitions between primary and secondary school like Elise is facing during Eight Keys. There's some really touching and heartfelt moments between Elise and her aunt and uncle that had tears streaming down my face. There's such vulnerability to Elise as she deals with all the emotions and questions and fears that she has about how and where she belongs in the world.
Each new key brings such possibility and excitement as Elise learns more about her family and her personal history. I think the whole concept of the keys and the rooms was brilliant and I felt myself being inspired. I think this is a wonderful book about friendship and family, that touches on sensitive topics and could really help benefit those struggling with self-esteem, bullying or finding a place to belong. Great book, highly recommended.