I recently finished reading Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur. It was recommended to me by my daughter. She is ten. Usually I am doing the recommending. Usually I am gifting books or strategically placing them in her path so we can share in some of my favorite stories. This was one of those not as frequent moments where she read a book and tossed in my lap and said, “read this.”
Now I don’t like following the commands of my ten year old. However, when it comes to connecting over books or stories she has written, I am all in.
Eight Keys hit me hard from the first chapter. It felt familiar and lovely while also gritty and uncomfortable. All those complex things that start to happen when you are crossing over from simply being a kid to adolescence. It’s a tough time in all of our lives. It is a tough time especially for kids who want to hold onto their imaginations and play with the world while it seems like everyone else is trying to fit into a page of a magazine. This book explores layers of friendship as they evolve. I was delighted at the self examination the main character goes through and begins to think about her role in her relationships. This is not an easy thing to unpack with my kiddo without some tension. This gave us a key to unlock some of what might be happening for her and her friends.
Eight Keys is tender and has characters that are independent, thoughtful, and complex without being too mature or relying or sexual tension to drive the story. The characters felt real and their struggles felt authentic. It touched on loss, trauma, fear, relationships, identity and empowerment. I am grateful for my daughter’s suggestion. I am even more grateful for the chats we have had about the story. I love that she has a friend who “must read this” so they can talk about it. I am thinking about getting some copies to leave out for my students to find and pass on. -Just like the keys…