In the Role of Brie Hutchens by Nicole Melleby
Introducing Brie Hutchens: soap opera super fan, aspiring actor, and so-so student at her small Catholic school. Brie has big plans for eighth grade. She’s going to be the star of the school play and convince her parents to let her go to the performing arts high school. But when Brie’s mom walks in on her accidentally looking at some possibly inappropriate photos of her favorite actress, Brie panics and blurts out that she’s been chosen to crown the Mary statue during her school’s May Crowning ceremony. Brie’s mom is distracted with pride—but Brie’s in big trouble: she has not been chosen. No one has. Worse, Brie has almost no chance to get the job, which always goes to a top student.
Desperate to make her lie become truth, Brie turns to Kennedy, the girl everyone expects to crown Mary. But sometimes just looking at Kennedy gives Brie butterflies. Juggling her confusing feelings with the rapidly approaching May Crowning, not to mention her hilarious non-star turn in the school play, Brie navigates truth and lies, expectations and identity, and how to—finally—make her mother really see her as she is.
Expected publication: April 21st 2020 by Algonquin Young Readers
I really enjoyed Hurricane Season when I read it last year, so I was excited when the publisher contacted me about this one. And I loved it.
Seeing lgbtqia+ in middle grade books is so important and I hope other authors will start so there are more. I loved The Mighty Heart of Sunny St James, too. It’s impossible not to love Brie. Even when she snaps at people, I just wanted good things for her.
Brie loves soap operas. It’s the only thing she and her mom really have in common. While watching them, Brie starts to realize that she is attracted to one female. She looks her up online and topless photos came up. Brie’s mom walked in while she was looking at them. Brie panicked and told her mom that she was going to crown Mary. It worked. Her mom focused on that. The only problem is that Brie knows she won’t crown Mary. Someone smart and perfect, like Kennedy, would be the one. Brie is in 8th grade at a Catholic school. She wants to be an actress and decides she needs to start working on auditions for a school for actors and actresses. Brie keeps coming back to one soap opera dialogue. It’s about a girl coming out to her mom and begging her to see her.
Brie starts to crush on Kennedy. Without planning it, Brie comes out to her parents. Her dad got over his shock and talked with her a little. But her mom pretty much ignored it. Brie worked harder at school. Anything to get her mom to notice her. Brie is so confused about her feelings and trying to figure out how she actually felt, what her label would be. But being at a Catholic school with a very religious mother is making it even harder on her. There are teachers at school that she sort of opens up to in ways, but she also knows she can’t be open there. Her best friend is amazing, but the only one who knows how she feels is Kennedy. Kennedy who doesn’t know who she really is and knows she can’t tell her mom.
There were so many important things covered in this book. It was about love and relationships, but it’s just the start of feelings. More than anything, it was about family, friendship, coming out, and figuring out who you are. Brie struggled so much, but she had some great people around her to help her feel seen. Even when her mom was ignoring her, I felt that Brie’s dad, tired as he was, always stepped up. Even her brother was more supportive than she expected. Can being an actress is a soap opera be the thing that will bring Brie and her mother closer? She obviously thinks so. Her love of soaps started with the love of spending that time with her mom.
I gave this book 5 stars. Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for my physical arc.
Is this on your TBR? Did you read Hurricane Season?