You Go First

by Erin Entrada Kelly
AR Test

At A Glance
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Charlotte has had the same best friend since elementary school. Charlotte wants to be a geologist and understand facts. When Charlotte starts middle school, she doesn’t understand why her best friend no longer wants to spend time with her. She doesn’t understand how to fit into middle school.

Ben doesn’t have any friends. He isn’t going to let that stop him from making an impact on his middle school. He’s determined to run for a student body office. But Ben isn’t prepared for a high school bully.  And life only gets worse when his parents announce that they are getting a divorce.

On the outside, Charlotte and Ben’s lives are completely different. Charlotte lives in Pennsylvania. Ben lives in Louisiana. But internally, both are smart, and both are struggling to fit into middle school. An online game of Scrabble brings the two together, but can a game break up their loneliness?

Beautifully written in easy to understand language, You Go First shows the power of having a friend. At first, Charlotte and Ben’s struggle seems stereotypical—smart kids enter junior high and realize they have no one to sit with at lunch. However, the characters are so unique and well-developed that the readers will feel their confusion, pain, and desire for someone to talk to.

Unlike many stories, You Go First looks at not only how mean middle school students can be, but Charlotte also begins to see how she is similar to the mean kids. Through the story, the reader will come to a better understanding of what friendship should look like. You Go First does not end with a happily-ever-after ending; however, the story does show how one friend can make a difference in a person’s life.

Sexual Content

  • Charlotte’s friend said that she “didn’t want to graduate from middle school as the only girl who’d never been kissed.”


  • A boy shoves Ben’s head against a wall and later smears ketchup on Ben’s shirt.
  • A boy trips Ben in the school hallway. “He did tumble. It just happened to be over Theo Barrett’s sneaker.”
  • Just as Ben is beginning his speech, a group of kids throws firecrackers at him.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Charlotte’s father takes pills for his heart.


  • Two girls are talking about a boy. When he walks in, a girl says, “Oh, God. Speak of the devil.”
  • A girl calls her brother Dorko and tells him, “God, you’re such an idiot.”
  • When Charlotte trips and drops her lunch, someone says, “Well done, Lock-nerd.”


  • None

Spiritual Content

  • Ben was in his bedroom preparing for an oncoming speech. He really wanted his dad to leave the bedroom, and “then the gods gave him an unexpected gift: His phone buzzed. . . ”


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