I was having a really hard time getting into a book – I was actually in the middle of four or five books when I picked up Pumpkin Spice Secrets. I wasn’t sure why this one would be any different in getting me out of reading slump, but with the cover and the synopsis, this book just sounded incredibly cozy and exactly what I needed.
So Sky Pony Press has come out with this new line of middle grade novels in a series called “Swirl Novels,” with each one featuring a pretty picture of a yummy drink on the cover and a sweet story inside, each focusing on crushes and friendships. This sounds like such an awesome idea, and while the covers are so much fun – bright colors, fun titles – what we’re really after is the content, right? You don’t want an overly cheesy middle grade book that is just completely full of fluff and nothing else. That’s where these perfect middle grade novels come in. Sure, they’re light, fun, and a bit on the fluffy side, but they also have deep lessons buried inside. In the case of Pumpkin Spice Secrets, it’s that friendship is the most important thing you can have when you’re entering middle school, so it’s important to try and protect it above all else.
One random morning before seventh grade begins, Maddie and her older sister go to a small coffee shop in town, where her sister says she wants to talk to Maddie about what things are going to go on during the school year – with her classes, friends, etc. However, what happens when they get there couldn’t be anything like what Maddie had anticipated. When she orders her iced coffee (pumpkin spice!), she accidentally turns around and spills the coffee on a cute boy – Jacob. Of course Jacob is sweet about it, and Maddie finds out that he is going to be going to the same school now, and she instantly develops a crush on him.
However, before she can tell her friends, including her best friend, Jana, Jana informs them that Jacob is her new crush, and she thinks he’s super cute and awesome. Since she doesn’t want to break their BFF code, which states that they won’t crush on each other’s crushes, Maddie keeps the secret to herself.
When seventh grade starts and Maddie finds herself having a harder and harder time keeping the secret to herself, she isn’t sure what she should do – should she tell Jana and hope for the best, or secretly pray that Jana’s interest in Jacob goes away as quickly as it does with all the other boys she’s crushed on in the past?
“I can’t become that girl. I can’t become a Betrayer and an ex-best friend. A lump grows in my throat. If I don’t say anything at all about Jacob, I prevent the possibility of being a traitor. I know what happens when you go against Jana. Like Fiona, I’d get totally cut off.”
It doesn’t help that she and Jacob end up paired up for a big debate project – and that Jana has been talking to Fiona, her ex-best friend. How much longer can Maddie hide the fact that she has been texting and crushing on Jacob so that she doesn’t ruin her relationship with her best friend?
This book was incredibly charming. The characters, the plot, the friendships – they were all great and brought the story together. I can see a lot of middle graders falling in love with Maddie and Jacob, and the friendship that Maddie and Jana share. That was my favorite aspect of the book – the amazing and sweet friendship that the two of them had that reminded me of my own time in seventh grade. The bond that was between Maddie and Jana is such an amazing one, and this book reminds everyone that friendship should be the most important thing, even if a cute boy comes along.
I also love how important family was in this book – Maddie and her older sister were really close and spent a lot of time together. I love seeing that in books, particularly middle grade books. I’ve read a lot of middle grade novels that don’t put emphasis on family at all (or simply come up with depressing backstories about the main character’s family), so I love that this one was pretty much happy. It was a really fun, cheerful novel.
I really can’t wait to check out the other books in the Swirl series, because I have the feeling they’re going to be equally as fun and uplifting as Pumpkin Spice Secrets.
Pumpkin Spice Secrets is a fun middle grade crush story that has so much emphasis on friendship that it instantly became one of those books that gave you the warm and cozy feelings inside. It’s one of those books that are perfect for a nice chilly fall day or a great book to read during a winter snowstorm. Any way you look at it, Pumpkin Spice Secrets is the kind of book that will fill you with smiles and warmth, especially if you pair it with your own pumpkin spice flavored coffee drink!