'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 20 July 2023

Review: So That Happened ... But Maybe You Already Knew That

Over the past couple of months I am delighted to say that I’ve fallen in love over and again, with middle grade fiction novels. So That Happened… But Maybe You Already Knew That is another fabulous addition to this growing list.

Twelve-year old Nutty is one of those characters whose easy, breezy voice jumps into your head and becomes your best friend as you read. 

She tells you something amazing or wild or surprising and then finishes up with ‘so that happened. But maybe you already knew that.’ 

It’s completely endearing, and a wonderfully effective narrative device. 

As our first-person narrator, Natalie (Nutty to those who know and love her) has an engaging, chatty style which creates a strong sense of intimacy and closeness. Which in turn, means that it’s impossible not to become swept up in her drama and care deeply about what happens to her. Really! 

When we meet her, she’s deep into planning her bat mitzvah party and dealing with loads of other situations as well: Her parent’s challenges with money, her best friend who’s drifted away, her new best friend who’s maybe not such a good egg after all, her Bubi (grandmother) who’s a stickler for old-fashioned rules, her aunty Sarah who’s missing in action, her personal challenges with reading and her family having to sell up and move out of the only home she’s ever known. 

So, that’s quite a lot! And through it all, she takes us, the readers, by the hand and describes in funny and fabulous detail these situations that are having an impact on her life and the lives of those around her.

Middle-grade readers will love reading up in age (Nutty is 12, after all), and greatly appreciate her considerate, totally natural explanations of things that might seem foreign or unusual. 

Aside from the fact that this book answers all the curious questions that non-Jewish children may have around the Bat Mitzvah celebration, it also does that wonderful thing of including cultural and language references (with a glossary of terms at the back) within the story.

Author Tami Sussman has turned a sacred cultural celebration that many of us are unfamiliar with, into a witty and inclusive novel.

It’s a wonderful read and indeed, an all-round gem.

Highly recommended.

Title: So That Happened … But Maybe You Already Knew That
Author: Tami Sussman
Publisher: Walker, $16.99
Publication Date: 8 March 2023
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760656010
For ages: 10 - 14
Type: Middle Grade Fiction