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Eight Keys – Suzanne LaFleur

“The trouble all started right before the first day of sixth grade, the last time Franklin and I played Knights.
Knights works like this: we get our swords, we head out to the woods, and we go on chivalrous missions to battle ghost knights.”
When 11 year old Elise starts middle school she has no idea how much things are going to change. Making an enemy on her first day she feels lost and quite alone. No one understands her, she starts being purposely late for school and she never does her homework. Things get worse and worse, then she turns 12. She thinks turning 12 will change everything but in reality the only difference was that the letters she receives off her dad, who passed away when she was three, on her birthdays stop and there’s something else she has to figure out. But her dad has left her with a task, and that task might eventually straighten a few things out.
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Eight keys was so cute, but oh so sad. I felt a pull like no other on my heart whilst I read this book and I had to read on to find out why everything was the way it was.
Elise is being bullied, and this is one amazing story of why bullies bully, and why people let them get away with it. This along with a story of growing up and discovery makes Eight Keys a must read for the younger generation… however I honestly found it difficult to relate to the story. I was bullied at school, when I was the same age as Elise, and I grew up in a small community but this felt like it was too far out there for me. The story seemed a bit aged, like it was set in the 80’s or early 90’s… it just felt a bit odd for me.
The problem I had was only the ageing of the story. Everything else was amazing, the characters were definitely brilliant and the way Elise and Franklin were just made perfect sense to me. Elise’s family were amazing and it was so sweet the way they took Elise in and treated her like her own person, they treated her as if she was their own child – she was their niece, her mother had died when Elise was born – but they also never put too much pressure on her or anything like that. I loved the way the book showed what it can be like for a child of that age to suddenly have responsibilities and also how hard it can be on them to suddenly have another, younger, child around all the time. I loved the relationship between Elise and Ava because I can see it really being like that.
I know that being a child of 11/12 can be hard. I am currently watching my boyfriend’s son go through that time, hes just started secondary school and the transition from primary to secondary, or in the books case elementary to middle, is very tough so I understood that. It’s a time when theres a lot of change and a lot of growing up and you can get confused and the book captures that well.
Overall I honestly thing Eight Keys is cute, and very moving but something wasn’t right. The characters were great but it really did feel a bit too oldie-worldy… or maybe its too set in the ways of an American way of living that I don’t fully understand. Anyway, I do think its worth a read, especially for younger kids who are possibly coming up to secondary school age, it just wasn’t for me. 
Eight Keys is the second book from Suzanne LeFleur and was published on 11th August by Puffin. My copy was acquired through UK Book Tours.

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