TweenLit: Eight Keys by Suzanne LeFleur
Eight Keys, a new novel recommended for 9-12 year olds and written by Suzanne LeFleur, tackles some of the confusion kids face when they are moving out of childhood and into adolescence. The characters are sympathetic and nicely drawn, familiar and likable.
Elise is at a difficult age--turning twelve and leaving elementary school for middle school. She still wants to play, but she doesn't want her schoolmates to think she's a baby. She has a bully locker-mate from hell, tends to affix blame on external forces, and doesn't think adults want to hear about her problems. Elise is a typical, American 11-year-old.
She believes that after her 12th birthday, everything will become clear and her life will straighten out all by itself. Raised by a doting aunt and uncle, Elise lives in a nice home with a huge barn. She knows that there are eight rooms on the second floor of the barn that she isn't allowed to go near, but she doesn't know what, if anything, is in them. And then she finds a key...
Eight Keys is a novel about discovery--not just discovering what's behind eight doors, but discovering what's inside oneself. As Elise learns more about the secret rooms, she also learns more about herself. Some uncomfortable realizations dawn on her. She begins to understand her own contribution to what's wrong (and right) in her life, and she learns that she will be the person she chooses to be.
Character study? Coming-of-age story? Eight Keys is both, and more. It is an absorbing, well written tale of a girl coming to grips with growing up.