I didn’t expect to enjoy this book so much! It’s even better than the first in the series, 11 Birthdays. It had me laughing with tears in my eyes – growing up was just like this. And what a great thread running through the story, not forced or preachy but so wise.

Young Rory Swenson has been waiting to turn twelve her whole life. She can pierce her ears when she’s twelve. She can go to the mall with her friends when she’s twelve. She can babysit little Timmy next door when she’s twelve. She can get a cell phone when she’s twelve. She can even ride in the front passenger-side seat when she’s twelve. And now that day has finally arrived.

And what follows is simply hillarious. There are a few wincing moments – Rory is always managing to injure herself and you really feel her pain – so it’s not for a squeamish young reader. And while Rory has a beautiful simplicity and is courageously independent (at least by the end of the book), the behaviour of her classmates and even her nice friends at a party leaves a bit to be desired. But even this is a good talking point with readers who can be encouraged – like Rory – to think for themselves. 

It is a great contemporary story for girls between 9 and 12 who show signs of wanting to grow up too fast. As Ghandi said, ‘There’s more to life than increasing its speed’.

Clare Cannon is editor of www.GoodReadingGuide.com and is the manager of Portico Books in Sydney.

Clare Cannon lives in Sydney where she is editor of The Good Reading Guide and manager of Portico Books,...