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Twelfth

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Better Nate Than Ever  meets The Parker Inheritance in this heartwarming mystery about finding your people and accepting others as they are. Twelve-year-old Maren is sure theater camp isn’t for her. Theater camp is for loud, confident, artsy people: people like her older sister, Hadley—the last person Maren wants to think about—and her cinema-obsessed, nonbinary bunkmate Better Nate Than Ever  meets The Parker Inheritance in this heartwarming mystery about finding your people and accepting others as they are. Twelve-year-old Maren is sure theater camp isn’t for her. Theater camp is for loud, confident, artsy people: people like her older sister, Hadley—the last person Maren wants to think about—and her cinema-obsessed, nonbinary bunkmate, Theo. But when a prank goes wrong, Maren gets drawn into the hunt for a diamond ring that, legend has it, is linked to the camp’s namesake, Charlotte “Charlie” Goodman, a promising director in Blacklist Era Hollywood.   When Maren connects the clues to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, she and her new friends are off searching through lighting booths, orchestra pits and costume storages, discovering the trail and dodging camp counselors. But they’re not the only ones searching for the ring, and with the growing threat of camp closing forever, they're almost out of time.


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Better Nate Than Ever  meets The Parker Inheritance in this heartwarming mystery about finding your people and accepting others as they are. Twelve-year-old Maren is sure theater camp isn’t for her. Theater camp is for loud, confident, artsy people: people like her older sister, Hadley—the last person Maren wants to think about—and her cinema-obsessed, nonbinary bunkmate Better Nate Than Ever  meets The Parker Inheritance in this heartwarming mystery about finding your people and accepting others as they are. Twelve-year-old Maren is sure theater camp isn’t for her. Theater camp is for loud, confident, artsy people: people like her older sister, Hadley—the last person Maren wants to think about—and her cinema-obsessed, nonbinary bunkmate, Theo. But when a prank goes wrong, Maren gets drawn into the hunt for a diamond ring that, legend has it, is linked to the camp’s namesake, Charlotte “Charlie” Goodman, a promising director in Blacklist Era Hollywood.   When Maren connects the clues to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, she and her new friends are off searching through lighting booths, orchestra pits and costume storages, discovering the trail and dodging camp counselors. But they’re not the only ones searching for the ring, and with the growing threat of camp closing forever, they're almost out of time.

30 review for Twelfth

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC provided by Edelweiss Maren is glad to go to summer camp to get away from problems at home surrounding her older sister, Hadley, but she still can't escape her sister's shadow, since she also had attended the Charlotte Goodman Theater Camp. Maren has a knack for solving little mysteries, like where Jo, the camp director, left her phone, and she settles in to her cabin. Roommate Theo, who identifies as nonbinary and uses the pronouns they/them, is interested in filming, and manages to irrita E ARC provided by Edelweiss Maren is glad to go to summer camp to get away from problems at home surrounding her older sister, Hadley, but she still can't escape her sister's shadow, since she also had attended the Charlotte Goodman Theater Camp. Maren has a knack for solving little mysteries, like where Jo, the camp director, left her phone, and she settles in to her cabin. Roommate Theo, who identifies as nonbinary and uses the pronouns they/them, is interested in filming, and manages to irritate the other campers, especially after saying the name of the play the camp is putting on, MacBeth. There's already been an issue with the oldest counselor having gone missing, and there is a fear that this is the last year that the camp will be open, since there is development occurring around it. There's also the issue of the camp's history-- Charlotte Goodman was the daughter of a dancer and a set designer in Hollywood, and went into films herself, but unfortunately perished in a horrible fire in the 1950s. The camp was set up by her sister in her honor. There was another woman who died in the fire, and she had a very expensive engagement ring with her. The diamond has been rumored to be at the camp somewhere, and Maren starts to think that the counselor's disappearance had something to do with the clues she has found around camp, as well as rumored sightings of Charlotte's ghost. When developer Renee Wallace is seen lurking around the camp, Maren becomes more suspicious, and redoubles her efforts to find the diamond. In flashbacks, we see Charlotte's involvement in early Hollywood, and find out some secrets about her past. Will she and Theo be able to find the diamond, save the camp, and deal with the family issues that Maren will once again face when she returns home? Strengths: There is a lot of good LGBTQIA+ representation in this book, and very good conversation on gender diversity with Dr. Jennifer Feldman at the back. A large plot twist revolves around the fact that Charlotte developed a romantic relationship with a female star, but I don't want to ruin the mystery! Theo's treatment is realistic, as they are not always treated well by some people but generally accepted. We didn't get a lot of information about Hadley's depression, but did see how it affected Maren. There is interesting information about the Red Scare in Hollywood; readers might want to pick up Brimner's Blacklisted!: Hollywood, the Cold War, and the First Amendment for more information. The fact that the camp might be endangered is realistic, and the alumni's support of it is touching. Since Charlotte was born in 1930, I think this was set in 2015 so that the timeline was a bit more realistic. Weaknesses: I know that there are some schools that get really into Shakespeare, but mine is not one of them. We have a small theater program now, but books about theater don't circulate very well. What I really think: This is a good mystery for readers who like Snyder's 2011 William's Midsummer Dreams, Freeman's (2021) Noah McNichol and the Backstage Ghost, Condie's 2016 Summerlost or Asher's Upstaged.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Riddhi B.

    This was a really fresh take on a middle grade contemporary novel! I rather enjoyed it! Plot: The plot was what drew me to the book. I love books with a camp setting, and I do enjoy reading up and learning more about Shakespearean plays, so this was a perfect book! And the entire mystery aspect was super amazing as well! The mystery was carried out perfectly, and I for one, couldn't have predicted the exact ending. I did predict a part of it, but definitely not the entire thing! Characters: I loved This was a really fresh take on a middle grade contemporary novel! I rather enjoyed it! Plot: The plot was what drew me to the book. I love books with a camp setting, and I do enjoy reading up and learning more about Shakespearean plays, so this was a perfect book! And the entire mystery aspect was super amazing as well! The mystery was carried out perfectly, and I for one, couldn't have predicted the exact ending. I did predict a part of it, but definitely not the entire thing! Characters: I loved the portrayal of all characters, but Theo was my favourite! I also wish we had more depth to Hadley's situation, but in a way, that was well-carried out too. I do hope the author writes a novel on Hadley, I'll definitely read it! Writing style: This was where the book lacked a tad bit, but overall, it wasn't too bad! 100% recommend if you're a lover of theatre and mysteries!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Review Maren’s sister is struggling with depression after her first year of college. Maren feels like a burden to everyone, but that doesn’t mean she really wants to spend the summer at her sister’s favorite summer camp. But, when she’s dropped off, she is dropped into a mystery maybe only she can solve – is there a ghost at camp? Is there someone out there trying to find a mysterious treasure that might save the camp from financial ruin? As a theater kid myself, I thought this was a fun summer my Review Maren’s sister is struggling with depression after her first year of college. Maren feels like a burden to everyone, but that doesn’t mean she really wants to spend the summer at her sister’s favorite summer camp. But, when she’s dropped off, she is dropped into a mystery maybe only she can solve – is there a ghost at camp? Is there someone out there trying to find a mysterious treasure that might save the camp from financial ruin? As a theater kid myself, I thought this was a fun summer mystery that will keep kids entertained but won’t scare them too much. Listed as middle grade, I would definitely say it’s for older middle school kids. It deals a great deal with identity, gender fluidity, and finding who you are. I thought the main story of Maren, Theo, Graham and their goofy friendship and hunt for the treasure were great fun. Incorporating Charlie’s story provided a solid background for the camp, the treasure, and the real jewel of the story – finding and embracing who you really are.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Taylor

    So many great things in this novel! A heartwarming middle grade story about overcoming adversity, being your true self and pursuing you dreams. A tale of love conquering all. A testament to the power of theatre. An LGBTQ+ representation. I was a little disappointed in the cartoonish villain element. So much of the story was strong and realistic, while this part was just a tad campy. Thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours and Netgalley for my free copy. These opinions are my own.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    Rating: 5/5 I'm a huge theatre nerd so when I saw the plot of Twelfth I knew I had to take a trip to the bookstore Pros:-this was such a fun read! I loved getting to piece together the clues while reading -Maren was such a deeply relatable character, she was trying her best to deal with the world around her while also learning about herself -the cast of characters was loveable and made me forget I was reading Cons: -I don't have any! Rating: 5/5 I'm a huge theatre nerd so when I saw the plot of Twelfth I knew I had to take a trip to the bookstore Pros:-this was such a fun read! I loved getting to piece together the clues while reading -Maren was such a deeply relatable character, she was trying her best to deal with the world around her while also learning about herself -the cast of characters was loveable and made me forget I was reading Cons: -I don't have any!

  6. 4 out of 5

    jess (bibliophilicjester)

    This book was absolutely excellent in so many ways!! There's a nitpicky yet really important thing I need to mention, but I'll do it at the end. It's about EpiPens. Also, listen. I'm not a professional reviewer. These are just my messy thoughts about a book I really loved and would like to aggressively recommend to everyone. Okay?! Good. Moving on.. This book was just so wonderful aside from that one little thing!! The representation is exceptional, and I don't mean just for queer characters. It' This book was absolutely excellent in so many ways!! There's a nitpicky yet really important thing I need to mention, but I'll do it at the end. It's about EpiPens. Also, listen. I'm not a professional reviewer. These are just my messy thoughts about a book I really loved and would like to aggressively recommend to everyone. Okay?! Good. Moving on.. This book was just so wonderful aside from that one little thing!! The representation is exceptional, and I don't mean just for queer characters. It's a really simple thing, but it's nice just to see different types of personalities at this theater camp. So often, characters with certain interests fall into stereotypical archetypes..but not here. There are kids who want to direct, write, work in costumes or makeup... Not just overdramatic kids who love the acting spotlight. No, I was never a theater kid (though I did do stage crew once, and it was a nice excuse to buy black sneakers haha), but I love watching plays and performances! I also love Shakespeare, so I guess this is one of those books (like if we were villains) there was no way I wouldn't love wholeheartedly. Seriously, of someone's doing a midsummer night's dream...I want to see it. I don't care how many other times I've seen it. What fools these mortals be... Maren is a great character to follow, and I really enjoyed watching her piece together more than just clues. She has a lot on her plate, and she managed it all in a believable way..flr a character of any age. She's complex and wonderful and even when I didn't agree with her, I was 100% rooting for her to get it right. Theo absolutely owned every page they were on, and is the most instantly lovable character I've seen in a really long time. The type of character you'd be entirely baffled to discover another reader didn't adore. Literally any reader. Theo is the best and I will not be accepting any opinions to the contrary. And they were always trying to get extra noms. How can you not love someone who wants extra potatoes?! I'd be friends with Theo. Big personality with an even bigger heart... pretty much describes half my friends (and most of my exes, honestly, lol). Also SAL!! Sal is probably one of the most accurate NY rep I've seen. He's confident and kind, and not at all a stereotype. When Allegra is being the WORST and using the wrong pronouns for Theo, Maren corrects her, and sal's response? "Word." YES. Lol. People in the city (probably most cities, I'd guess?) come in all different shapes and sizes and colors and sexualities etc. You could tell a city kid you have one purple leg and one green one, and they'd probably be like, cool okay, and move on haha I literally saw someone walking a pig on a leash walking around the city once, and absolutely no one acted like it was anything out of the ordinary. I know I spent a lot of time on this, but as a human from northern NJ, I'm really sick of people getting it wrong. People from my area aren't jokes. We're not jersey shore characters. And people in the city aren't all full of dreams or tragic backstories. It's where we live, and yeah it shapes who we are, but it isn't all we are, you know? Anyway. Sal was great. Good NY/NJ rep is sadly very rare, so a massive thank you to Janet Key. Thanks for seeing us as real people. The best part for me (as a grown up 😊) was seeing all the extras at the back of the book. I love author's notes in general, but the conversation included was just amazing. If this is the first book kids encounter with all this delightful queerness, it's so so important to have useful information. I especially liked the question about how people who don't identify as anything but cishet can be allies. And there's a lovely part where the expert being interviewed says to ask your friend what they want you to do in certain situations. Another amazing thing is just generally how everything is presented. Maren is 12 and it's a middle grade book, but Key never talks down to the reader. The characters are clever on their own but also have a bunch of helpful adults around them. No one questions kids doing Shakespeare... because why wouldn't they? And I really loved seeing a bunch of good teachers and competent adults. (but Jess...spoiler spoiler was spoiler?! No. Good teachers and competent adults. Entirely true.) The adults are also given believable flaws and strengths. Everyone in this book feels real, and I think that's so important in mg books especially. Kids aren't dumber than adults... they're just younger. I didn't realize it would have two timelines, and I won't say much about the second one. But I loved both narratives equally, which can be really difficult to do. And when everything starts coming together... So good. Really, such a beautiful story 💕 The author's note/facts in the fiction also mentions a v exciting thing, which is that marriage equality/same sex marriage was legalized...on my birthday!! No more sharing my day with Derek Jeter and Ariana Grande... That year brought an amazing gift to my whole damn country. WOOT!! Finally, something I'm proud as hell to share my birthday with!! And yes, I remind people every year it's not just my birthday, but a day that took way too long to get here, so we have to celebrate extra and always!! *twirls* *disappears in an explosion of rainbows* That's the end of the real review (LOL "review")... So please please go read this book. Right now. It's SO absurdly good. And now for my nitpicky tangent... When someone with a severe allergy comes into contact with their allergen...the EpiPen needs to be used immediately, and then they need to also go to the hospital immediately. Unless it's changed, I believe you have to get them to the hospital within 30 minutes of administering the EpiPen. The character in thos book immediately has trouble breathing, which I'm going to assume is supposed to be the beginning of anaphylaxis (which is usually why people have EpiPens). Later, it's mentioned someone "gave [the character] the EpiPen and called the police"... Which doesn't say to me that they went to the hospital. How I understand it, is the EpiPen is what keeps you going until you can get to the hospital for proper treatment. That character should not be walking around camp a few hours(?) later feeling "okay". I don't care if I'm being rude or nitpicky... everything else in this book is represented and presented with such care, and it would've been really easy to check. I worked at a regular summer day camp about ten years before this book takes place, and I had to watch the video every single year and practice how to administer an EpiPen. There's no excuse for the person who gave the shot to not know the kid needs an ambulance. Also...you have to jab really hard into someone's thigh. Like directly into the muscle. Idk if you'd want to walk around much after that.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mark Buxton

    What worked: The book has an effective hook right from the start, as the acting instructor for a summer theater camp disappears. The other counselors and the camp’s owner have no idea what’s happened, and it creates a mystery. The mystery deepens once she’s found and reveals she’d been kidnapped and interrogated for information. Apparently, someone believes a valuable diamond is hidden somewhere in the camp, and the kidnapping adds an element of danger to the problem. The main plot follows Maren a What worked: The book has an effective hook right from the start, as the acting instructor for a summer theater camp disappears. The other counselors and the camp’s owner have no idea what’s happened, and it creates a mystery. The mystery deepens once she’s found and reveals she’d been kidnapped and interrogated for information. Apparently, someone believes a valuable diamond is hidden somewhere in the camp, and the kidnapping adds an element of danger to the problem. The main plot follows Maren and Theo as they deal with the mystery, the day-to-day drama of camp life, and the preparations for the camp’s production of Shakespeare’s “The Twelfth Night”. It’s Maren’s first time coming to camp, reluctantly, but Theo is a camp veteran and prefers to be addressed as they or them due to being trans. Other gender identities are included in the book as related issues are addressed. For some reason, an anonymous person (or ghost) sends Maren cryptic messages related to lines in the play that will help her find the diamond. Theo agrees to help along with a couple of other campers. Maren’s character is intelligent and logical, so she’s well-prepared to take on the whodunit. Maren also deals with thoughts about her older sister’s depression and she’s forced to sort through her mixed emotions. The book has a variety of subplots, including alternate chapters about the life of the camp founder’s daughter, Charlie. It’s revealed that Charlie’s character identifies more with males and has something to do with the missing diamond. Charlie finds it easier to live as a man, but life gets complicated when a beautiful actress enters the picture. The hidden feelings and secrets that follow lead to a tragic end. However, these characters create the mystery that Maren is trying to solve. Theo is the most entertaining character, as they’re determined to film a movie while at camp. They carry a camera everywhere, constantly filming, and this creates an issue late in the book. Their character has an insatiable hunger, and they finish Maren’s leftovers at every meal. They wear unique, colorful vests all the time, and they have relentless energy for camp life and sleuthing. They have an ongoing conflict with a self-centered, vain girl, but Theo handles it better than her. Theo’s enthusiasm for life and solving the mystery is contagious, and readers will come to enjoy the character too. What didn’t work as well: The setting of a theater camp in the middle of nowhere is a bit unusual. While the story is guided by the camp’s performance of the classic Shakespeare play, not a common interest of most young people, readers can still identify with other aspects of camp life. Maren’s reflections about her sister and her friends are engaging and will help readers make personal connections. The Final Verdict: Be yourself. “The Twelfth Night” and the search for the missing diamond steer the story and support subplots for a myriad of intriguing characters. Their compelling issues will engage readers, and I recommend you give it a shot.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own. Book: Twelfth Author: Janet Key Book Series: Standalone Rating: 4/5 Diversity: Non-binary character, Wheelchair user character, Trans character, Gay character, Queer characters Recommended For...: middle grade readers, mystery, LGBT, thriller, theater, summer camp Publication Date: May 17, 2022 Genre: MG Mystery Age Relevance: 12+ (homophobia, transphobia, antisemitism, religion, religious trauma, depression, parental Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own. Book: Twelfth Author: Janet Key Book Series: Standalone Rating: 4/5 Diversity: Non-binary character, Wheelchair user character, Trans character, Gay character, Queer characters Recommended For...: middle grade readers, mystery, LGBT, thriller, theater, summer camp Publication Date: May 17, 2022 Genre: MG Mystery Age Relevance: 12+ (homophobia, transphobia, antisemitism, religion, religious trauma, depression, parental death, kidnapping, war, gore, violence, domestic abuse, romance) Explanation of Above: There are some homophobia, transphobia, and antisemetic comments made to characters in the book. There is mentions of religion and religious trauma. Depression and parental death is mentioned briefly. There is a couple of kidnapping scenes, along with mentions of war and scenes of gore (vomit and some slight blood) and violence (assault on minors). Domestic abuse is alluded to in the book and there are a couple of brief scenes of romance. Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Pages: 368 Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Maren is sure theater camp isn’t for her. Theater camp is for loud, confident, artsy people: people like her older sister, Hadley—the last person Maren wants to think about—and her cinema-obsessed, nonbinary bunkmate, Theo. But when a prank goes wrong, Maren gets drawn into the hunt for a diamond ring that, legend has it, is linked to the camp’s namesake, Charlotte “Charlie” Goodman, a promising director in Blacklist Era Hollywood. When Maren connects the clues to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, she and her new friends are off searching through lighting booths, orchestra pits and costume storages, discovering the trail and dodging camp counselors. But they’re not the only ones searching for the ring, and with the growing threat of camp closing forever, they're almost out of time. Review: I enjoyed this summer camp read! I loved that it was a theater camp and that the mystery was Shakespeare themed. The book had pretty decent character development and world building. The story was interesting and it kept me reading until the very end to figure out the whodunit. I also enjoyed the riddles even though I didn’t understand them. I also appreciate all of the useful material at the end of the book! However, I knew it wasn’t going to be so good for me when the book started off with 2 full pages of characters. I did have trouble remembering all of the characters, there were a lot, and reading an ebook made it hard to flip to the front of the book to check who was who. I thought that the book was a little on the boring side in the beginning until about halfway through the book and that there was just so much slow pacing throughout the read. Verdict: I liked it!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Karen Siddall

    Easy to read and with a satisfying storyline, I was delighted, inspired, and still very entertained.Twelfth, a reference to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and the play the campers are to perform at the end of camp, is a unique middle-grade novel of mystery, suspense, self-awareness, and the need each person has to be seen for who they are. Told in dual timelines, one set in the summer of 2015 and the other beginning in the early 1940s and continuing into the 1950s, two distinct plots wend their way Easy to read and with a satisfying storyline, I was delighted, inspired, and still very entertained.Twelfth, a reference to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and the play the campers are to perform at the end of camp, is a unique middle-grade novel of mystery, suspense, self-awareness, and the need each person has to be seen for who they are. Told in dual timelines, one set in the summer of 2015 and the other beginning in the early 1940s and continuing into the 1950s, two distinct plots wend their way toward each other until they come together in one remarkable story. I was completely immersed in both tales and appreciated how the characters from each one experienced similar struggles. I was gripped by how each set of characters chose to handle being outside societal norms and the impact on their choices that a 60-year separation in time had.Maren and Theo are great characters. Maren arrives at the camp in a total funk, but she is actually pretty game to get things going and the summer done. She’s never sullen or whiny, just really disappointed, confused, and torn about what is going on with her family. She’s ready just to endure it all and surprises herself with what a good time she has as she works through the mystery and her personal feelings. Theo is so upbeat and delightfully driven to follow their dreams. I loved their daily vests and quest for extras in the cafeteria. I admire anyone who can take on the opinions of others like they did and come out on top. Allegra is perfect as the pair’s antagonist; we all know THAT girl.Most of all, I loved the twists and turns the story makes. Just when I thought I knew where things were going (and they eventually do get there), the author threw a fantastic curveball. Easy to read, with a satisfying conclusion, I was delighted, inspired, and very entertained.Diverse and well-drawn, the characters in Twelfth felt realistic. I thought they could easily match the random makeup of people and personalities one finds in real life. The exciting story held my attention; I would have happily read the book in one sitting, and I feel even reluctant readers would stick with it. I recommend TWELFTH to readers who enjoy a fun and exciting mystery with true-to-life personal issues complicating characters’ lives and those who want some insight into the hearts and minds of someone who doesn’t fit society’s gender molds.I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the publisher through TBR and Beyond Tours.

  10. 5 out of 5

    t s a r

    "You know, when I was your age, this would have been exactly my dream cone true. But after living the life I got to live? Just goes to show you, I was dreaming too small." Thank you Netgalley, Janet Key, and TBR Beyond Tours for giving me a digital advanced copy of Twelfth in exchange for an honest review. Twelfth ★★★★ My expectation of Twelfth is about a silly treasure hunt around a theatre camp, but what I received was a story of people finding their lanes without the pressure of beco "You know, when I was your age, this would have been exactly my dream cone true. But after living the life I got to live? Just goes to show you, I was dreaming too small." Thank you Netgalley, Janet Key, and TBR Beyond Tours for giving me a digital advanced copy of Twelfth in exchange for an honest review. Twelfth ★★★★ My expectation of Twelfth is about a silly treasure hunt around a theatre camp, but what I received was a story of people finding their lanes without the pressure of becoming someone else. It's a mildly heavier topic for a middle-grade novel, yet it is actually a timely discussion for pre-teens who are already in the age of exploring their identity and passion. Twelfth introduces us to Maren, the twelve-year-old kid who unwillingly joins a theatre camp since her parents hope that she will be more open and cheerful like her artsy older sister Hadley. For Maren, a camp with overly excited and borderline obnoxious kids is not her thing; it's the opposite to her preference for not standing out in the crowd. It isn't until she accidentally finds a clue about a missing diamond ring belonging to the camp's namesake that she finally believes there is a purpose for her to be in the camp. Through the course of the novel, Janet Key implements a concept of parallelism between Maren and Charlotte Goodman, the subject to whom the diamond ring is assumed to belong, where she indicates that their similarities and differences do intertwine—creating equally meaningful respective journeys for the protagonists of the novel. The rich conceptualization of the premise never feels too dull for a novel geared toward teenagers, for its heftiness is tamped with the simplicity of its exposition; Janet elaborates the story in a way that makes sure to have the readers engage with the mystery, heightening their curious senses as much as the characters who are searching for clues around the camp. Expectedly, she successfully narrates a distinction between the protagonists to see where the parallel lies: Charlotte and Maren are born as the younger sisters, doomed to live in the shadows of their older sisters. On Charlotte's side, her predicament doesn't deter her from shaping her own future where she could be the star of its realm. She uses her creative writing talent as an advantage to rise in the ranks of Hollywood, dictating the stage, and eventually earning the spotlight that she covets as the promising director during the Hollywood Blacklist era. It showcases a tenacious personality that glows inside Charlotte—she would do things that would ensure her happiness and satisfaction more even if she has to make sacrifices for it. It is further emphasized when she has to make difficult choices between pursuing her career and becoming one with the subject of her romantic attraction in a period where same-sex relationships are still considered taboo. On the other hand, it's quite the opposite for Maren. She has prided herself on her inquisitive nature, able to find missing objects in a heartbeat as she does with Jo's phone. She has an acute talent for writing stories that have multi-layered meaning⁠—far more prominent than most of her peers in the camp. And yet, Maren is depicted to receive less attention than how people around them treat Hadley and her gifts—a glaring contrast to the unwavering support received by Charlotte from her older sister Rosalie. As a result, it affects how Maren views her talents; they make her feel anxious and not good enough, a sense of being an outcast, and dreading anticipation that everything she does will end up in mockery. Janet subtly points out that these thoughts are unhealthy, and the isolation is too much for a growing twelve-year-old kid like Maren. Eventually, as the hunt for the diamond ring progresses, the plot becomes a catalyst for Maren to break out from her cocoon. Janet paces her transformation into gradual small steps, taking time to let Maren assess seemingly non-agreeable situations from a different point of view and rethinks her best reaction outside of her norm to those conditions. It looks like slow progress, but even in an unhurried yet struggling manner, Janet thrives in making the readers see that Maren does try to open herself for the better⁠—that there are people who see her as herself, willingly to accompany her for it, and appreciate her handiworks in a way she always wants to get deep down. Each of Maren's newfound friends has quite a distinct personality, making them interesting supporting characters. Theo, for example, comes off a bit strong and aggravating in the initial introduction⁠—the picture-perfect and stereotype annoying theatre kid. Yet, their braggadocious nature has its vulnerability; their irritation when they face blatant ignorance and discrimination toward their gender identity, and the slight fear of being left behind for being 'too weird' since they're the most enthusiastic cinema fan in the camp. Meanwhile, Sal could fall into that role akin to the love interests of romance novels. He's calm and collected, providing contrast to the somewhat more energetic atmosphere in this diamond-hunting group. Sal is also not without his own mischief, as proven by his occasional snark where he manages to bite back against kids like Allegra but still looks so cool with it. My biggest surprise is the twist on his identity. Some contemporary young adult novels still implement the typical characteristics for readers to identify which gender or sexuality the characters identify with. For Sal, his identity is written like it's been part of his life for a long time, not as a piece of life-changing news that he should scream about it to everyone or flaunt through accessories and flowery attitude in public. If there are a few critiques that I could comment on Twelfth, it is about Graham's position in the group. He's insistent and helpful, but his personality has not much going on from his first appearance to the course of the book⁠. His development feels much less compared to Sal and Theo, which ends up with him filling the position of the goof like Shaggy in the Scooby-Doo franchise. It is similar to the supposed villains in the book. Renee and Monty are not ridiculous, but their existence as the book villains is unnecessary. Monty is such a good side character, so to see him revealed as a secondary antagonist instead of sticking only to his young and empathetic tutor persona is disappointing. Whereas Renee, even with her history as the daughter of the man whose life got destroyed when Charlotte and Emma disappeared, has no strong basis that makes it feel like she is willing to attack some kids in a camp. It's enough to have Allegra as the mean camp bully who would cause some trouble for the group because of her bitterness and discrimination. However, does it take away the good things in the novel? Absolutely not. Twelfth is such an impressive debut from Janet Key, whose genuine passion for theatre and Shakespeare shine throughout the narrative, creating the charming piece of a middle-grade novel that everyone should read. I can't wait to see what's in store for Janet and her next book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kristin Lizzie

    Thanks to HarperCollins for my advanced copy! I was all set to adore this new mystery adventure starring a group of drama kids, using clues based on TWELFTH NIGHT, championing LGBTQ+ rights. And I do really, really, really like it. I'm not ultimately as rapturous about it as I hoped I'd be, but I definitely think everyone should read it. This is basically an LGBTQ+ version of Varian Johnson's THE PARKER INHERITANCE. A group of middle schoolers in the present day work against the clock to find a Thanks to HarperCollins for my advanced copy! I was all set to adore this new mystery adventure starring a group of drama kids, using clues based on TWELFTH NIGHT, championing LGBTQ+ rights. And I do really, really, really like it. I'm not ultimately as rapturous about it as I hoped I'd be, but I definitely think everyone should read it. This is basically an LGBTQ+ version of Varian Johnson's THE PARKER INHERITANCE. A group of middle schoolers in the present day work against the clock to find a hidden treasure before an evil corporation's representative finds it first and, in doing so, to save their beloved drama camp from closure. The mystery involves a set of clues created in the past by a shadowy figure, whose backstory we slowly receive through interspersed flashbacks, and who turns out to have been a victim of trans and genderqueer oppression during the Golden Age of Hollywood. The characterizations are vivid, the use of TWELFTH NIGHT is clever, the resolution is fun...so why isn't this a full 5 stars for me? Because TWELFTH falls into the trap that so many middle grade and YA novels seem to lately, trying to shove in one or two or five extra social issues - or, in this case, extra characters who relate to/spell out the central theme of LGBTQ+ oppression. I could have dealt with one fewer character reduced to a platform to drive home Key's important message. But once again I am reminded that I'm not the intended audience for this book (although I doubt middle grade readers will get as much squealy delight from the TWELFTH NIGHT clues). In theory, children ages 8-12 are the intended audience. I can't speak to their experience, but I can imagine a scenario where a child that age who is just beginning to grapple with their own gender and sexual identity might find the range of possibilities explored here welcoming and inclusive and nurturing, rather than overstuffed and slightly unfocused. Anyway, this wonderful new novel is fun and meaningful and well worth a read. I'd say the historical narrative portions edge it toward the more mature end of middle grade. But if nothing else, which should science and math whizzes have all the fun solving mysteries? We artsy types can have adventures, too!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tracey Vince

    I requested Twelfth as it sounded quite an intriguing mystery but when I came to read it I found that the story was a bit of a mix bag and to be honest it could of been a whole lot better. Not a bad first novel. Twelfth is trying to be a lot of things but only succeeds in the mystery part but only because the Charlotte Goodman chapters were short and snappy while Maren's were far too long which made me put the book down. Usually I eat up my Middle Grades but got frustrated at the length which cou I requested Twelfth as it sounded quite an intriguing mystery but when I came to read it I found that the story was a bit of a mix bag and to be honest it could of been a whole lot better. Not a bad first novel. Twelfth is trying to be a lot of things but only succeeds in the mystery part but only because the Charlotte Goodman chapters were short and snappy while Maren's were far too long which made me put the book down. Usually I eat up my Middle Grades but got frustrated at the length which could of been easily sorted by adding extra chapters. I get that Janet wanted to cover the subject of Mental Health she did a good job to an extent but I think she could be more successful if she did a separate story concentrating on Hadley and Maren's relationship. I also didn't think that Maren was a strong main character but Theo on the other hand really made the book and in my opinion saved the book. To me Sal and Graham were just there . As for the other characters I found Allegra was very annoying and again just another mean girl who really used words beyond her years like "power couple". As for the Baddie they were just so OTT and reminded me of a very bad pantomime character and did a disservice to the book. I do believe if Janet kept to the Mystery side it would of been a very different story and for all these reasons Twelfth is getting 3 stars

  13. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    **This book was sent to me by Little Brown Readers and Goodreads in a giveaway** I was so excited for the concept of Twelfth because I am an English teacher who reads/performs Twelfth Night with her students and wanted to see how well the Shakespearean influence was incorporated. On that end, it did not disappoint! I liked how there was a connection between gender identity in both the book and the play and how they both played a large role in the novel. Additionally, I thought this story provide **This book was sent to me by Little Brown Readers and Goodreads in a giveaway** I was so excited for the concept of Twelfth because I am an English teacher who reads/performs Twelfth Night with her students and wanted to see how well the Shakespearean influence was incorporated. On that end, it did not disappoint! I liked how there was a connection between gender identity in both the book and the play and how they both played a large role in the novel. Additionally, I thought this story provided a pretty good mystery. I liked the juxtaposition between Maren in present day and Charlie in the past, creating a more detailed story. There were a few too many characters for my liking, making it difficult to keep up or root for anyone in particular (except Theo; their character development was great!) Graham and Sal felt underdeveloped and I would have liked to hear more of their stories. I also wish Hadley had played a bigger role; her storyline with her mental health journey had the power to be very compelling and just was a little too shallow for me. Overall, a pretty good middle grade novel that had an excellent message about finding who you are and expressing yourself.

  14. 4 out of 5

    LeeAnn

    Twelfth is a middle-grade story of a girl and her rat-pack of theatre geek pals, across all spectrums of LGBTQIA+, solving an old mystery to save their summer camp - while preparing Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. But it's also a historical dive into the maniacal politics of film and theatre in the 1940s-50s. It's about prejudice and loss, and the hope of a community. It also introduces a gentle hope and reassurance for all those feeling misunderstood, and especially those suffering from depression. I Twelfth is a middle-grade story of a girl and her rat-pack of theatre geek pals, across all spectrums of LGBTQIA+, solving an old mystery to save their summer camp - while preparing Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. But it's also a historical dive into the maniacal politics of film and theatre in the 1940s-50s. It's about prejudice and loss, and the hope of a community. It also introduces a gentle hope and reassurance for all those feeling misunderstood, and especially those suffering from depression. In case I forget - I'll sum it up this way. It's a madcap mystery that opens the door to conversations about suicide and gender diversity. Bravo. "None of the others held a candle to her friends." (327)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Laura Mauro

    As a theater teacher this would be such a fun read for my studetnts. I think it is really fun summer read at a summer camp that focsues on some many element that are typical to middle school student friendship drama and family drama. It also really dives into the process of putting up a show and waht the process is looks likes. I think that was my favorite part of the book. There is also a strong LBTQ+ storyline in this whole book. There is also a duel timeline in this book that is focused on sl As a theater teacher this would be such a fun read for my studetnts. I think it is really fun summer read at a summer camp that focsues on some many element that are typical to middle school student friendship drama and family drama. It also really dives into the process of putting up a show and waht the process is looks likes. I think that was my favorite part of the book. There is also a strong LBTQ+ storyline in this whole book. There is also a duel timeline in this book that is focused on sloving the mystery of the diamond in this story. This book did have some pacing issues but as theater fan it brings back so many memories!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Parkhill

    Twelfth, by Janet Key, offers two parallel storylines: one set during 2015 at “Camp Goodman,” a summer theater camp for young people, and one centered around the camp’s namesake, blacklist-era Hollywood director Charlie Goodman. The story touches upon important themes, including gender diversity and mental health, and will be published in May 2022 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. I received an advance copy of this book through Publishers Weekly’s Grab a Galley Winter/Spring 2022 promoti Twelfth, by Janet Key, offers two parallel storylines: one set during 2015 at “Camp Goodman,” a summer theater camp for young people, and one centered around the camp’s namesake, blacklist-era Hollywood director Charlie Goodman. The story touches upon important themes, including gender diversity and mental health, and will be published in May 2022 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. I received an advance copy of this book through Publishers Weekly’s Grab a Galley Winter/Spring 2022 promotion. Video review at https://youtu.be/wudTJSEEh0A

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joanna R

    Thanks so much to Janet Key and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review! I loved Twelfth! Twelfth Night is my favorite Shakespearean play, so it was amazing to see it represented not only with LGBTQ+ characters but an honest, wholesome hilarity that shaped the novel. Maren is such a relatable, real character, and the way that the timeline switched back and forth between the two time periods kept me hooked the whole way through. With a mystery, a summertime feel, and a twisti Thanks so much to Janet Key and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review! I loved Twelfth! Twelfth Night is my favorite Shakespearean play, so it was amazing to see it represented not only with LGBTQ+ characters but an honest, wholesome hilarity that shaped the novel. Maren is such a relatable, real character, and the way that the timeline switched back and forth between the two time periods kept me hooked the whole way through. With a mystery, a summertime feel, and a twisting storyline, Janet Key has truly paid an amazing tribute to the playwright!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    Delightful read with mysteries, puzzles, friendships, family conflicts, suspense, plot twists, humor, and a sweet resolution! Very nicely paced and should be great for any junior (middle school) reader.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Fiona

    This book was one of the best books I’ve ever read. Such a heartwarming, mystery, and adventurous book. Definitely read

  20. 5 out of 5

    Deb Aronson

    great whodunit and focusing around theater kids, I even like the two parallel story lines but a little bit fraught for young readers I think...feels a bit more like a YA to me, a young YA...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Andréa

    Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.

  22. 4 out of 5

    LJ The Bookdragon

    I have a friend who is: 1. named Theo 2. is nonbinary 3. loves theatre 4. loves cinema so i feel like i need to read this book now...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (jenjenreviews)

    Thank you to TBR Beyond Tours for providing me with a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. This review is also posted on my blog. For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com. I had so much fun reading Twelfth! The novel is told through dual timelines (the main timeline is contemporary while the other gives short sneak peaks into the lives of related characters back in the 40s-50s). The main story follows a young gi Thank you to TBR Beyond Tours for providing me with a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. This review is also posted on my blog. For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com. I had so much fun reading Twelfth! The novel is told through dual timelines (the main timeline is contemporary while the other gives short sneak peaks into the lives of related characters back in the 40s-50s). The main story follows a young girl named Maren who gets sent to a summer drama camp and begins to discover hidden clues leading her to a mysterious treasure. Legend has it that there is a valuable diamond engagement ring hidden on the camp’s premises and Maren (and her friends) set out to find it. Unfortunately for them, Maren isn’t the only person on the hunt, and the malicious second party is not unwilling to get rid of anything and anyone in their way. Can Maren find the ring before it’s too late? I don’t read many middle grade mystery novels, so I was a bit worried that I was going to find this a bit too young for my tastes. Luckily for me, I actually really enjoyed the setting, the plot, and the characters. I felt as though the characters in this book were a lot more mature than I expected–more mature than some YA novels I’ve read in the past, in fact—and it worked incredibly well. On top of that, there is an amazing amount of representation included throughout. Though I don’t think it’s ever explicitly stated, I believe several characters were Black and brown with one Spanish-speaking character. There were also a lot of queer characters (which I kind of expected as a book about drama kids). We have trans rep, gay rep, lesbian rep, and even a historical sapphic romance. Now that I’ve read and enjoyed Twelfth, I’m interested in checking out the other two books mentioned in the blurb. I can only hope that I like those just as much!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Allison B

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bianca Stephens

  26. 4 out of 5

    Iniya

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lira

  28. 4 out of 5

    Paul Rossi

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  30. 4 out of 5

    babs.books

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