About the Book:
Title: Susie B. Won’t Back Down
Author: Margaret Finnegan
Pub. Date: October 5, 2021
Beagles and Books is excited to share a review and giveaway for Susie B. Won’t Back Down published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon and Schuster. Special thanks to the publisher and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Susie Babuszkiewicz is a peppy fifth grade student who has a lot of opinions. For starters, she can’t be called Susie because Soozee Gupta is also in her class which seems unfair. B comes before G right? But after reading about Susan B. Anthony and her crusade fighting for women’s rights, Susie embraces being called Susie B. and when choosing a personal hero for the fifth grade Hero Project, Susie immediately knows her choice, duh.
I absolutely love the format of the novel, for Susie narrates in the form of letters penned to Susan B. Anthony. The letters are written in a conversational tone so readers feel that Susie is speaking directly to them. What I love most is that Susie does not hold back; she tells it like it is. For instance, she shares her honest feelings about Chloe Howard who she secretly calls “Old Fakey Fake” because of her phony personality and how Dylan Rodriguez is one of usual geniuses-kids who always get pick for everything. And Susie reveals her life long dream of running for student council president because who wouldn’t want to use the big microphone to say The Pledge of Allegiance at assemblies?
As Susie researches Susan B. Anthony more, she learns that her hero made alliances with individuals who did not believe in equality for all people. Susie is deeply troubled by this revelation and feels betrayed especially since her half-brother Locke is biracial. But once more students do research, they also discover their heroes’ flaws. As her friend Carson who chose Picasso as his hero eloquently states, “It’s easier when you just know what people did, not who they were.”
Susie also discovers that friends can surprise you too. Jocelyn has always been her best spark, but as she is running for student council treasurer, Jocelyn sees an opportunity to befriend Chloe. Susie tries but finds it difficult to be friendly with “Old Fakey Fake.” When Susie asks her to choose, her best spark chooses the other side which I agree was pretty stabby-stabby. Susie, I would be proud to eat lunch with you every day.
Susie B. Won’t Back Down is an authentic story of a young girl trying to figure out who she is. Is she passionate or high maintenance? Her brother Locke tells her it to her straight-“Fill yourself up by being your best.” Susie realizes that her best means being true to herself. With that revelation, Susie and Jocelyn may not be besties right now, but sparks don’t happen with only one person. Susie learns that friends Carson, Soozee, and even Dylan can help her Inner Light shine. Thanks Susie for being real.
Praise for Susie B. Won’t Back Down!
A Junior Library Guild Selection
About the Author:
Margaret Finnegan is the author of the middle-grade novels Susie B. Won’t Back Down and We Could Be Heroes. Her writing often focuses on themes on inclusion, hard choices, and being true to yourself. She also makes a really good chocolate cake. To learn more, and to download free discussion guides, visit MargaretFinnegan.com.
Check out the fun mock newspaper, The Susie B News–available for download here!