Finally by Wendy Mass

Mass returns to Willow Falls, the setting of 11 Birthdays.  This time it is Rory’s turn to have a birthday and she is finally turning twelve.  Her entire life her parents have told her that she could do things when she turned twelve.  She can have a pet, shave her legs, go to a girl/boy party, have a cell phone, get her ears pierced, and much more. But hours before her birthday, she finds herself stuck in a drainpipe and rescued by a little old lady who has surprising strength.  That women tells her, “You won’t get what you want, Rory Swenson, until you see what you need.”  Rory though is sure that her list of promises from her parents are exactly what she both wants and needs.  As Rory works her way through the list, her efforts meet with disaster.  It is especially bad when they start filming a movie at her school and all of her disasters could force her to give up her new job as an extra.  It just may take a gold allergy, an evil murderous bunny, and loss of skin on both legs for Rory to see what she needs.

Written with a strong voice in the first person, Rory’s take on life is wry, funny and always upbeat.  She is a great character whose disasters make for laugh-out-loud moments that are perfect for the tween age group.  Her personal wants may not match those of readers, but they will easily see themselves in her.  She is utterly understandable, completely accident prone, and simply delightful to spend time with.

This book reads quickly as readers move from one of her wishes to the next with Rory, each resulting in if not surprising, then very funny events.  Rory’s family members are just as vividly written.  Her parents are busy but involved and caring if a little overprotective.  Her toddler brother offers just the right amount of distraction and silliness too. 

Take humor, a zing of some sort of magic, and an accident prone tween, and you have this winning book.  The cover is bright, friendly and will invite children to pick it up and read it quickly.  Appropriate for ages 10-13.

Reviewed from Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) received from publisher.

Also reviewed by Kate Messner on her blog.