Addie Bell’s Shortcut to Growing Up was an interesting book, and to be honest, probably one of the first middle grade-young adult crossover books that I’ve ever read. I wasn’t sure it was supposed to be geared more toward middle graders, since the Addie Bell in the beginning of the book is twelve, or if it was more aimed at the young adult crowd, since the majority of the book focused on sixteen year old Addie, but I could definitely see this book appealing to both age groups.
Addie Bell is about to turn twelve – and she isn’t too happy about it. She longs for the days when she is a teenager, like her older sister Rory, so that she can wear makeup, have a cellphone, drive a car, and stop dressing in the babyish clothes that line her closet. It doesn’t help that her best friend is still somewhat “childish” – wanting to have tea parties and do their school assignments on fairy tales. Addie Bell is so over this – she doesn’t know how much longer she can handle it.
When her neighbor, Mrs. Toodles, an elderly woman with whom Addie spends plenty of her time, listening to stories, having cookies, and drinking lemonade, gives her a birthday gift – a story and a jewelry box that Mrs. Toodles tells Addie has the power to magically grant wishes, Addie thinks that Mrs. Toodles can’t possibly be for real. A jewelry box that grants wishes? There’s no way. Right?
When Addie and her best friend Grace have a falling out at a slumber party, Addie wonders how much more of this she can possibly take – she seems to be a sixteen year old stuck in a twelve year old’s body. So before bed that night, she writes down her wish “I wish I was sixteen” on a piece of paper, and locks it in the jewelry box.
When she wakes up, her whole world is changed. Addie is no longer twelve years old, in the same babyish bedroom with the little kid clothes and no curves. Addie Bell wakes up to find out that she’s actually sixteen years old, in a room full of awesome furniture, cute clothes, makeup, and a dog – something she has been wanting for years and that she hasn’t been allowed to have.
“This is the glamorous, uninhibited, greatly improved life of sixteen-year-old Adeline.
It’s like someone has unlocked the door and let me out of my prison cell. Someone has finally set me free.
And I have a feeling it’s going to be amazing.”
So Addie, who now likes to be called Adeline, apparently, is tossed into this world where she is sixteen. Not only is Addie just sixteen – but four years have passed since she made that wish on her twelfth birthday – meaning time kept going, and Addie missed it all – she missed growing up, she missed seeing her sister go off to college, and she even missed getting her puppy. Sure, there are photos of Addie during all these times, but the twelve year old Addie wasn’t actually there for any of it.
In fact, more has changed than she expected – for one, she and Grace are no longer friends. Second, she is one of the most popular girls in school, friends with the “mean girl” Clementine. They have a successful makeup/hair/nails vlog that they run together, too, and this Addie has plenty of guys after her – seven of them asked her to a school dance, and she turned down every one of them. But is her friendship with Clementine all it’s cracked up to be?
So while Addie struggles to make sense of the world she is living in now (for example, she isn’t even sure how to pronounce trigonometry, let alone actually know how to do it), she tries to figure out exactly how to fix things that got all messed up in the past four years – like how she and Grace ended up not friends, and why she hates her.
Addie Bell’s Shortcut to Growing Up is a really cute book, definitely light and fluffy. I’d like to say that there isn’t anything deep or any meaningful messages in this book, but that would be a lie – there’s a strong underlying message about friendship being worth more than anything, and it’s easy to pick out – I believe this will resonate will with younger readers, making sure they know that they shouldn’t be in such a hurry to grow up, but instead to enjoy every moment of their lives while they go along.
I guess sometimes even adults need to be reminded of this too – as we often spend our lives wishing for the next exciting thing to happen, instead of appreciating all the little moments as they come along.
There’s a lot of family interaction in this book, which is a positive thing to note as well. Many books for young adults and middle graders seem to be based on horrible family drama or having the family absent from the story most of the time, so it was a really nice change of pace to see a strong family bond.
Also? This book is really funny. I seriously laughed a lot while reading this. I wasn’t really expecting any laugh out loud scenes or anything, but they were definitely there, even when I wasn’t expecting it.
This is the first book that I’ve read by Jessica Brody, even though I have a few others, and I definitely enjoyed it. As I stated earlier, I really do believe that this book will appeal to readers of all ages, and the important messages in the book will be sure to stick with you!