Greta Grace


Children - Grade 4th-6th
188 Pages
Reviewed on 09/06/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lexie Fox for Readers' Favorite

Greta Grace is a work of fiction in the children’s drama genre. It is aimed at younger readers and was penned by Joanna Quinn. The book follows the titular Greta Grace as she tries to navigate her day-to-day life at school. Whilst her social life suffers from her flying under the radar, she manages to be a model student the rest of the time. Her situation starts to change when the target of her affections starts paying attention to her, but things take a turn for the worst when the school bully also begins to notice her existence.

It’s a difficult time in a young person's life to be on the cusp of teenage years, the playfulness of early childhood being slowly left behind as the infamous puberty years loom ahead. Things change, feelings are amplified, and every dark situation feels like it has the potential to be world-ending. It’s amongst this hotbed of emotional changes that Joanna Quinn has set this story, and as a former teacher, it’s a world she has unique expertise in. Greta and her peers are all wonderfully fleshed-out characters with all the accuracy and complexity of people their age. The subject matter of bullying is a very serious one for a book aimed at children, with those who have experienced it often regarding it as one of the worst chapters of their lives. Greta Grace manages to skilfully walk a very delicate line between realistic depiction and a sensitive discussion of the subject, making the book an extremely important resource for parents and educators wanting to open a dialogue with young people about the subject.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Greta Grace is a work of children's fiction penned by Joanna Quinn. Middle grade and high school years are difficult at the best of times. There’s always the in-crowd, those kids who think they’re the coolest and wield the most power over everyone else. At Greta Grace’s school, there is one very mean girl, Casey, and she’s set her sights on Greta Grace to make her life a nightmare. Just when things can’t get any worse, Greta Grace’s best friend, Samantha, switches to Casey’s side, Greta Grace’s beloved grandmotherly neighbor has an accident and lapses into a coma, and the bullying intensifies. Greta Grace’s mother wants to step in to help, but Greta Grace is worried it might make things worse. Throughout the entire experience, Greta Grace learns some valuable lessons about perseverance, tolerance, trust, and forgiveness. And then another difficult character enters the picture and Greta Grace’s world is once again tossed about in all directions – just as she’s settling into the idea that the boy she always had a crush on might actually like her.

Joanna Quinn’s middle-grade novel, Greta Grace, is a candid reflection of middle school and high school student dynamics. The plot is well developed with multiple tangents and believable situations intertwined throughout. The characters and setting are well developed and dialogue is used effectively to carry the story along. The key issue addressed is bullying, but it’s also used as a means to open up discussions about trust and forgiveness, two key Christian concepts. The bond between Greta Grace and the grandmotherly neighbor is sweet and provides a passive conduit for Greta Grace’s exploration of her feelings and her growing beliefs. The bond between Greta Grace and her mother is also sweet, but the reader might find it a little unrealistic for a middle-grade girl to be so fondly connected to her mother, without conflicting attitudes and opinions on key issues like suitable wardrobes. The story certainly engages the reader. I understand there is a sequel that will continue to follow Greta Grace through high school. Nevertheless, it was a good read.

Kristen Van Kampen (Teen Reviewer)

Greta Grace by Joanna Quinn is a realistic, middle-grade novel that follows the main character Greta Grace’s struggles with bullies, best friends, and boyfriends. When Greta Grace becomes the target of the school bully, Casey, she isn’t sure what to do. She doesn’t want to tell an adult in case that makes it worse, but she doesn’t like her friend Samantha’s suggestion of doing poorly in school to escape Casey’s attention. As the bullying continues, Samantha abandons Greta Grace out of fear that she could be Casey’s next victim. To make matters worse, Greta Grace’s neighbor, Mrs. McGee, has gone into a coma, and Greta Grace isn’t sure when, or if, she’ll wake up. But at least her crush, Charlie, has started to notice her, though it isn’t long before it seems like other girls are attracting his attention, too. How will Greta Grace face these common middle school occurrences?

Relatable and interesting, Greta Grace by Joanna Quinn is an entertaining read. I liked that the book was written in the first-person narrative from Greta Grace’s perspective because it made me feel like I really got to know her. The story tackles many issues that school-aged readers may relate to, such as bullying, sickness of a loved one, and friendship fights, and reading this book may help them feel like they’re not alone. The way Greta Grace handles these problems is very realistic, which made the book more interesting to me because it was very true to life. I really liked Greta Grace and Charlie’s relationship because it helped to balance the sadder parts of the story with happier parts, and also because, despite some ups and downs (and a little drama that makes the story more exciting), it's obvious that they care about each other. There are many important messages to be learned from the book, like forgiveness and seeking help if you need it. I enjoyed reading the book, and so I would recommend it, especially to middle-schoolers.

Susan Sewell

A seventh-grade student struggles to overcome the problems associated with the mean girl in her class in the charming and thought-provoking middle-grade book Greta Grace by Joanna Quinn. Greta Grace lives with her mother and has a happy and secure life. Her neighbor Mrs. McGee is like her grandmother and always has cookies and sage advice waiting for her after school. Lately, Casey, a girl in her class, has started giving Greta Grace a hard time, and her best friend Samantha abandons her to join Casey's gang. When Greta Grace goes to Mrs. McGee for advice, she overhears a devastating message on Mrs. McGee's answering machine and decides not to bother her. Things become even worse for Greta Grace when Mrs. McGee goes into a coma. With Casey's bullying escalating, Greta Grace doesn't know where to turn. She doesn't want to tell her mother because she is afraid of the consequences. Can Greta Grace do anything to change her circumstances? Or will she have to survive with things the way they are?

Beautifully written, Greta Grace by Joanna Quinn is a middle-grade book realistically depicting children's drama and bullying at school. The story is right on the edge of the teen years and young adulthood, and the advice and wisdom the adult characters share are illuminating. I loved the spiritual aspects of the story and how Greta Grace's mother and Mrs. McGee guided her through the difficulties she experiences. I thought it was ingenious how they incorporated yoga into Greta Grace's life to equip her with a sense of well-being and allow her to pause, let go of the situation, and breathe. It is a fabulous story that is certain to connect with and entertain eight to twelve-year-old readers.