Summary of Finally (by Wendy Mass):
Rory Swenson feels like everything in life is leading up to her 12th birthday! She has been preparing by saving items and notes that remind her of all the things her parents promised she could do when she was 12, like get a cell phone, wear make-up, and own a pet. Now she has her list ready—but will her overprotective parents finally allow her fulfill all her wishes for independence and maturity? As she accomplishes each task—big and small—it is just one disaster after another. Rory is so eager to be “grown-up,” she is missing out on the joys of friends and family as well as allowing things to happen in their own time. Fortunately, she realizes that these milestones do not define her or make her special. Instead, she is growing into an adult with good character by the deeds she does for others and the wise choices she makes with her life.
Finally is a kind of sequel to 11 Birthdays. It stands on its own, but there are a few references to the former that make more sense if you have read it. The action occurs approximately one year later in the same town. The main characters are different, but the main protagonists and some of the minor characters from the earlier novel have small roles in Finally.
I was drawn to Rory right away! She has a genuine tween/teen voice. I laughed in several places because she reminds me so much of my own daughter, who like Rory, thinks I am too strict, complains about my couponing, and is too anxious to grow up. Rory, also, struggles with figuring out how she fits in with her peers.
I also appreciated that overall Rory is not a sassy or disrespectful tween. Her parents are actively involved in her life (sometimes more than she would like), and her family is relatively close (even though she sometimes gets embarrassed by them).
My favorite part is the ending (which I will not spoil by giving the details). Finally is really about figuring out who you are and determining what you want your life to be like. There is a real positive message about how tweens/teens can begin to find that out. It is not the superficial “grown up” things you do, but the choices you make in your daily life and relationships.
I HIGHLY recommend Finally for ages 8-12.
This post is linked up with Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wanna Be Scribe.