It Wasn’t Me by Dana Alison Levy
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Summary from NetGalley:
THE BREAKFAST CLUB meets middle school with a prank twist in this hilarious and heartwarming story about six very different seventh graders who are forced to band together after a vandalism incident.
When Theo’s photography project is mysteriously vandalized at school there are five suspected students who all say “it wasn’t me.”
Theo just wants to forget about the humiliating incident but his favorite teacher is determined to get to the bottom of it and has the six of them come into school over vacation to talk. She calls it “Justice Circle.” The six students—the Nerd, the Princess, the Jock, the Screw Up, the Weirdo, and the Nobody—think of it as detention. AKA their worst nightmare.
That is until they realize they might get along after all, despite their differences. But what is everyone hiding and will school ever be the same?
ARC provided by Random House Children’s via NetGalley for an honest review.
This book does start off a little slow, but once you get into it, it becomes quite the delightful read. All of the characters are pretty well fleshed out, have authentic voices and were fun to spend time with. The Breakfast Club references may be missed by many middle schoolers, but this story will still resonate with many.
The bulk of the book is told through Theo’s point of view, although we hear from the others through what they write on their daily assessments that ask questions about the incident that brought them there and how they feel about it. All of the kids are different from each other and although they have all known each other for years they discover that they really don’t know each other. Each of these kids have a part of themselves that they have kept hidden from the rest of the school. Most of them are good, like playing in a band, but others are sad and quite meaningful to the story as a whole. I liked all of the kids and saw similarities to the kids I work with so I think kids who read this book will find something of themselves in these kids.
The premise of the book is that the students were all in the wrong place at the wrong time, but claim that they didn’t see anything. So they are asked to give up their spring break to participate in a Justice Circle with the school counselor. The principal is also in the building and does make appearances now and then. Now I can see the parents agreeing to let their children participate but not sure that a counselor and principal would be willing to give up their breaks for this. Maybe, but I think kids would even agree that this was a slim possibility. Except for that the rest of the story was great. I loved the concept of the Justice Circle and could totally see that concept working in the school setting. I loved the phrase that kept coming up ” “Be kind, for all of us are fighting unseen battles.” I think that is something that is important for kids to understand. That just because you have known someone for a long time, doesn’t mean you really know them.
Over all I thought this was a great book, that kids will be able to relate too on many levels. It also made me want to rewatch the Breakfast Club!