Libby in the Middle by Gwyneth Rees

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Libby in the Middle by Gwyneth Rees

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Lovely story about trying to fit in when you're neither the big sister nor the little sister but the boring one in the middle. Engaging and relatable.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: August 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 1408852772

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Twelve-year-old Libby has an older sister, Bella. Bella used to be a real confidante to Libby but things have changed since she got a boyfriend. Now, Bella makes Libby feel childish, foolish and unwanted. The close friendship they had shared has gone and Libby worries that it will never come back. Libby also has a younger sister, Grace. Grace is lovely but it seems to Libby that Grace, as the baby of the family, commands all the parental love and attention. Libby is well and truly stuck in the middle, without a role of her own.

When Aunt Thecia offers to pay the girls' fees to attend a posh private school, Libby's family moves home to the village where her dad grew up. Bella is furious about this because it means leaving boyfriend Sam behind. The family dynamic is fractured and everyone starts keeping secrets from everyone else and, as usual, Libby finds herself in the middle of all them...

So, this is a madcap story in which everybody gets into unnecessary scrapes because they keep secrets from one another and never tell each other the truth about what they're doing and how they're feeling. And it's also a story about middle child syndrome - how being neither the trusted, experienced oldest child nor the fussed-over, indulged youngest child can leave you without the anchor of a clearly-understood place within a family. It has some funny moments, some sad moments and some cross moments - which is pretty much family life in a nutshell, isn't it? And everything works out in the end - which is just as it should be. I liked the picture of family life presented - even with all its frustrations, family is what makes us and ties us. We need it.

Libby is a great central character. Thoughtful and introspective but lacking in confidence, she is feeling her way into adolescence and it's not always easy. The supporting cast is well-drawn and three-dimensional, so it's not all about Libby.

This one is for readers looking for realistic descriptions of family life coupled with an interesting and pacy plot line. It's a fun read with some positive, serious messages.


If Libby in the Middle appeals, you might also enjoy Hannah's Secret (The Beautiful Game) by Narinder Dhami about sibling rivalry in a girl's football team, or Cherry Crush: The Chocolate Box Girls by Cathy Cassidy, about fitting in, step-families and being attracted to the wrong boy.

Buy Libby in the Middle by Gwyneth Rees at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Libby in the Middle by Gwyneth Rees at

Buy Libby in the Middle by Gwyneth Rees at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Libby in the Middle by Gwyneth Rees at


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