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I read a great middle grade book this weekend. It is The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani.
In the village of Gavaldon live two best friends, Sophie and Agatha. Sophie is pretty and sweet and Agatha is dirty and solitary, but they both have each other. Sophie dreams of living a fairy tale life. Agatha just wants to stay at home with her cat. Every four years two children are kidnapped from their village, and rumor says that they are taken to the School for Good and Evil where they earn the rights to live their own fairy tale.
Sophie is determined to get kidnapped, and Agatha is determined to stop it. Though Agatha tries her hardest, Sophie is taken and Agatha follows. Together they are taken to the school, but to their confusion, Sophie is dropped off at the school for evil and Agatha is placed in the school for good.
They try to tell the school teachers that a mistake was made, but the grown-ups don't listen. So our two friends begin their first year at school in full panic. Sophie does all she can to prove she is good, and Agatha does everything she can to help. Again and again they try to prove Sophie is good, but just when they think they've pulled it off, something goes wrong.
First off- 5 stars! Loved it. This middle grade is complex and full of twisty plot turns and imaginative scenes. The whole book revolves around the questions- what is good and what is evil? and can one person be both? The author does an excellent job creating different scenes that showcase both Sophie and Agatha's personalities. It is clear that them being switched is for an unknown purpose, but you have to read the book all the way through to figure it out. There is no easy guess.
Bravo for something that is layer upon layer of story. The characters are fully developed, even the side cast. Agatha is my favorite. What an unbelievable friend? She is true to Sophie even when it is obvious Sophie is using her to win the prince. Plus, the ending is spectacular. I really didn't know how it was going to work out. Sophie seems irredeemable, but her last act gets a thumbs up from me. This is a really good story that children will love to read.