Every middle-schooler (and you too) should read this novel

Kiki and Jacques by Susan Ross

Susan Ross’s book is a “middle grade novel” but I thoroughly enjoyed it myself, and I am a very long way from middle school. Kiki and Jacques, a Holiday House Book, delivers a very important and timely message.

The story features the arrival of Somali refugees to a Maine town dominated by Franco Americans. A young middle schooler, Jacques, who is involved in a difficult family situation, takes an interest in a Somali girl whose brother, a great soccer player, becomes a rival of Jacques on the playing field.

A subplot involves a bad character who tries to involve Jacques in illicit acts. Yes, there’s a lot to the plot, and some strong messages that are important for all of us to understand.

Susan Ross was born and grew up in Lewiston-Auburn, and says she was inspired to write this story by incidents in her hometown when refugees from Somalia began to settle there in the early 2000s. You can learn more about her at www.authorsusanross.com.

This was Susan’s first novel, and I can’t imagine a better start to what I hope will be a long and rewarding writing career. Please buy this book for your (or some) middle-schooler, and read it yourself first.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.