Author: Barbara Dee
Genre: Middle Grade
Mila is surprised when some boys join her and her friends in a birthday hug. But when one of the hugs goes on far too long, she’s embarrassed and uncomfortable. Soon after, different boys touch her or want hugs, making her feel weird. She doesn’t think any of them actually like her, and they don’t seem to be flirting. Why are they doing this to her?
When Mila attempts to tell her friends, they don’t seem concerned. One even accuses her of making up their attention. So she stifles her feelings and hopes the boys will stop. When she’s given the unexpected opportunity to take karate classes, she learns how to speak up for herself. And when one of the boys misbehaves in a public setting, she finally speaks up in a way that everyone has to take notice. Finally, the school recognizes what’s been going on, and Mila is able to have peace, at last.
After all the abuse Mila has been through, the reader might feel that she’s ready for the boys to be strictly punished. But when she’s asked to meet with everyone involved, in a group session, she hesitantly accepts. There, she is able to express to the boys how much their actions hurt her. Healing and understanding follow, as everyone sees how this behavior affected her.
Maybe He Just Likes You sends a powerful message to kids that bullying takes many forms, and no one needs to put up with it. Speaking up might feel awkward or uncomfortable at the time, but they need to do it to protect themselves. This book also reminds girls that their bodies are their own, and no one has a right to touch them unless they’re okay with it. I highly recommend this book for all middle grade kids, and I encourage teachers to include it in their curriculum. This is a message that needs to be heard.
Reviewer: Alice Berger