Michaela Mason’s Big List of 23 Worries
By Alexa Moses
Reviewed by Annaleise Byrd
Australian author and screenwriter Alexa Moses introduces a likeable and nuanced main character in this middle grade novel about moving towns, making friends and facing fears.⠀
Ten-year-old Michaela Mason has a lot of worries. So many, in fact, that she keeps a list of them… along with various other lists such as ‘scintillating words to work into conversation’ and ‘reasons why we should go back to the city’. Michaela is not happy about moving to a country town with her mum and having to start over in a new school.
Life at the new school starts off well when Michaela becomes friends with three girls who call themselves the ‘Pretty Posse’, even though she’s not into boys and makeup like they are… but then they come up with an ‘initiation’ for Michaela that doesn’t sit right with her. What can she do when her other friendship options are limited, and having no friends is high on her list of worries? Also, how will she deal with all the DOGS (her number one fear, which is always capitalised in her head) that live in this town?
One of the most enjoyable aspects of this book is the thoughtful character development. As in real life, people are complicated and contradictory, confident in some situations and insecure in others. Michaela makes a less-than-ideal choice that she must subsequently make right, one member of the ‘Pretty Posse’ suffers from her own fear while another simply seems to lack the courage to step away, and even the adult characters have moments of relatable frustration. Not every fear or flaw has neatly disappeared by the end of the story, leaving plenty of scope for future books in the series.⠀
This is a well-written and relatively quick read recommended for fans of realistic fiction along the lines of The Baby-Sitters Club, Sweet Valley Twins and Judy Blume novels. It would be a particularly suitable for tweens experiencing friendship dramas, as its satisfying ending reinforces the importance of sticking to your values and finding friends you feel comfortable and safe with.
Scholastic Australia 2021