Exuberant Emma, back after series opener Ask Emma (2018), is determined to be one of her middle school’s representatives to the National Student Congress.
But first, she has to prove to her principal that she can keep her (strong) opinions to herself for a full 48 hours, not easy for a person who thrives on dishing out advice. Although Emma manages to succeed—barely—in the process she alienates her two best friends by not taking sides to settle an argument and then posting an ill-conceived message about them on her popular blog. The girls retaliate by immediately beginning to exclude her from their three-way friendship. Some pithy advice from her mom helps Emma regroup and restore the peace, and she’s off to the stress-filled Student Congress in D.C., where she and her favorite boy, Jackson, must debate in front of a huge crowd. Her spontaneity and enthusiasm prove essential, of course. The white-default young teens model lots of problem-solving skills as they navigate common if rather trivial issues of their age group. Characters suffer from a lack of depth, overreacting to minor provocations but then being just as easily placated by equally minor interventions, reducing most of the conflict to insignificance. A long chapter of advice on how to start a mother-daughter book club follows the tale.
A vanilla-flavored depiction of middle school for kids who aren’t there yet. (Fiction. 9-11)