Title: Drew LeClair Gets a Clue
Author: Katryn Bury
Genre: Realistic Middle Grade Fiction
Number of Pages: 288
Warning: This review contains some spoilers
Twelve-year-old Drew is obsessed with criminal profiling and her hero Lita Miyamoto, who caught a serial killer and wrote a book about her experiences. Drew’s ‘morbid’ hobby makes her a misfit among most of her classmates but she really hits rock bottom when her emotionally distant mom runs away with her guidance counselor. Determined to protect her struggling father, Drew doesn’t tell him when a troll on her school’s website starts targeting her and other students, posting hurtful photos and attacking their vulnerabilities.
Instead, Drew becomes determined to catch the culprit with the help of her friends Trissa and Shrey. She also starts questioning her own sexuality after Shrey (a boy) tries to kiss her. Does she like both boys and girls? Neither? These things aren’t always simple and straightforward and although Drew’s dad supports her, her mom’s abandonment hurts and trying to forgive her might be the hardest thing she’s ever done.
I really liked that this book was about a kid who is questioning and she’s never revealed to be one way or the other. Plus, Drew was such a great character! I know what it’s like to be ‘the weird girl’ and to not share interests with other people. Drew’s passion for true crime alienates her from her classmates but it’s also a big part of what makes her what she is.
Her dad encourages her interest and they watch a lot of crime documentaries together. I loved their relationship and I also appreciated that no excuses were made for Drew for abandoning the family and being dismissive of her daughter’s feelings. It offered a hint of reconciliation but the author didn’t act like forgiveness was something Drew’s mom was ‘owed.’
The cyberbully (alias ellabakershade)’s ‘roasts’ were mostly surprisingly tame- I would expect middle grade bullies to be a lot worse- and some of the story felt very ‘safe’ and PC (all of the bullies are white and the big bad troll turns out to be one of the only white suspects.)
Drew’s two best friends were forgettable characters and Shrey is a jerk for assuming Drew is gay because she didn’t want to kiss him. I never really warmed up to him and Trissa was overwhelmingly nice but just not that interesting as a character. Drew was definitely the stand-out here and her character was strong enough to make the book highly entertaining and also occasionally touching. I’m looking forward to seeing what this author writes next.