Growing up requires constant change, as author Meg Medina demonstrates it in Merci Suárez Can’t Dance. This middle-grade book is the second installment in the Merci Suárez verse, following Cuban-American Merci Suárez as she cruises through the seventh grade. Mercedes “Merci” Suárez is a young girl who is trying to keep everything as it’s always been within her family and friends—from tía Inés’s routine at the bakery to her friendship trio with Hannah and Lena. This moving middle-grade novel is not only about life’s inevitable change; it invites young readers to explore business smarts, love, selflessness, cultural education, socio-economic status, confidence, and standing up for oneself. Everything changes for Merci Suárez and she must learn to dance to the changing beat of growth.
Taking place in South Florida, Merci begins seventh grade assigned as a business manager to the school store, The Ram Depot, with new student, Wilson Bellevue. They’re expected to work together as a team to “hone their business and math skills and get real-world experience”, according to Miss McDaniels. Merci immediately demonstrates superb sales and critical-thinking skills, necessary in business. Merci’s abilities have the potential to motivate young readers to learn more about the professional world at a deeper level, outside of their regular classes. “Fix your mistakes in style. Two-for-one erasers! Wile supplies last! (See? An eraser would have helped!),” Merci writes on a sign for the store with the commerce goal to sell erasers for her school.
Initially, Merci is hesitant to work alongside a seventh grade boy, considering her distasteful experience with “annoying jokes about farting” and similar shenanigans…