by Aileen Hower
Vice President for Elementary Schools
I was completely surprised by the content of Maybe He Just Likes You, by Barbara Dee. I thought I was going to be reading a cute middle-grade book about an innocent, albeit awkward, first crush.
Instead, I read a powerful book about friendship, courage, and the importance of mentors during times of bullying and sexual harassment.
This story is much needed in our current times. It lets early teens know that if someone else makes you feel uncomfortable, it's not "your fault." It encourages developing strength, standing up for one's self, and talking with friends and adults about how one is feeling in difficult situations.
The main character, Mila, is strong, yet makes many of the same mistakes as other middle schoolers in thinking she is alone in her problems. Throughout the story, she grows in her understanding of her right to feel safe in school.
She also learns when it is appropriate to fight for her voice and her hard-earned place in her world versus making bad choices when reacting to her struggles with others.
Overall, Barbara Dee has created a relevant, powerful message for young girls and everyone about how to treat each other with respect and kindness.