The last week of summer before everything changes ..


There's only one week of summer left before school starts and Macy will turn 12! Since her dad can't be here, she has decided to stay 11 years old. Macy doesn't like change, and she's had a lot of it lately. Her dad came home from Iraq but is gone again on some mission and he'll miss her birthday. Her grandma got sick and her mom forced Nana to sell her coffee shop (to a rat fink)!  And worst of all, Macy is going to middle school and her best friend Twee is still in 5th grade. 

Determined to find her dad so she can see him for her birthday, Macy plots a bus trip to find her dad. It is going to be hard to take a bus from Constant, Colorado, to Los Robles, New Mexico, and it keeps getting harder. The plotting (with and without Twee) and the lies are piling up. But she just HAS to see her dad.  

Spoiler alert in Educational Themes section below.

Parent Perspective:
Putting this on my must-read list for preteens. This is the second time I've read this book, and I have loved it both times. Macy's voice is honest and captures the reality of life as an almost-teen.

I hated how I sometimes loved my mother so much it made my heart just ache, and then other times the sight of her alone was enough to make me want to slam every door in the house. 

Her letters to the principal share more about who she is, as well. Macy is our narrator, but the heart of the book is its ensemble cast. Twee is on a parallel quest to Macy's - she's adopted and she is saving money to find her biological parents. Switch is the character who is most likely to be misjudged and then most likely to be loved. Ginger is an every-grandmother; kids will connect with her and Macy's mom. The adults - and their response to events - are also realistic and even-handed.

Find this book for your preteen. It is that special. 

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Honesty, curiosity, and real-life jump from the page in this wonderful middle-grade novel. Macy (our narrator) shares the stage with her best friend Twee, a Vietnamese adoptee as passionate about learning about her biological parents as Macy is in finding her father. 

Content Awareness Factors:


Type of Book:
This is a coming of age story told in first-person by Macy, the main character.
Educational Themes:

This book has many layers and will reach many different kinds of readers - and not just girls!  Macy makes her feelings about change, family, loss, and absence pretty clear. In addition to processing those elements, you might also talk about friendship - was she using Twee? What about honesty with herself? Do you think she knew but was denying that her dad wasn't on a secret mission but was in rehab? [The clues are there.] 

Through Macy, we see not only her world and its assumptions but Twee's too. What were the similarities in their quests to find a missing parent? What were the differences?

The third pivotal character in the story is Switch. Was he justified in a quarter and then taking the box full of newspapers? Do you think he knew who Macy was before the trip to Los Robles?

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
10 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
10 and Up
Purchase Recommendation:
Borrow, at least. If you know a preteen struggling with big changes or loss, they will find a friend in Macy.

Title Eleven and Holding
Author Mary Penney Hershey
Publisher Harper, Imprint HarperCollins Publishers © 2016
ISBN 9780062405470
Material Hard Cover
Cost $16.90
Genres Family, Humor, Health & Wellness, Growing Up
Reminder: Cover images, and links are affiliate links. The Reading Tub can earn income via purchases made via these links. 100% of any income goes directly to our literacy mission.
Other Reviews:

You May Also Like...

Check out these books you may also like


Ellen Airgood
be the star you are


Jennifer L. Holm
Yearling © 2016
be the star you are Cybils


Cammie McGovern
Harper, Imprint HarperCollins Publishers © 2016


Katie Davis
Greenwillow Books, Imprint HarperCollins Publishers © 2008