Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt – He does it again!

5 stars Middle School FIction

And just like that, Gary Schmidt does it again!  A fantastic book containing two incredible main characters whose lives were meant to cross. As I was reading both of the storylines in this book, my mind was trying to figure out how the two stories were going to collide.  I had a feeling their initial meeting would be memorable.

Meryl Lee was attending an all-girl’s prep school, a school where she felt she didn’t belong.  Matt, he was living in an old lobster shack trying to keep to himself, helping out on a lobster boat.  Both of their personalities were similar and the road that life that led them both on, had given them similar tests, so it felt as if they were destined to meet sometime in their lifetime. 

Hollings car accident had left Meryl Lee devasted. Her parents thought that St. Elene’s Prep Academy for Girls was the answer that Meryl Lee needed to give her a fresh start but Meryl Lee isn’t so sure.  The school was geared more towards the wealthier girls and the social aspects of the school don’t match those of Meryl Lee.  It’s a difficult move for Meryl Lee yet she holds firm to who she is, as she’s called out for not following the prep school’s rules and her peers also see her as being different.  Meryl Lee is a great character and it’s interesting to see the school through her eyes.  Matt is a loner and the more that I read about him, the more I understood why.  The pieces of Matt’s history are slowly revealed in the book and at times, I was losing my patience as I wanted more.  He’s not had a typical childhood but as we start the story, Matt’s has a pretty stable life.  Currently, Matt has a job, a place to stay, and most nights, he has a playful competition of skipping stones down by the water with a Mrs. Nora.  Mrs. Nora took a walk one night down by the water and found Matt skipping stones and they started meeting up every night since.  Matt’s street smart but not book smart, yet.  Mrs. Nora decided that she wanted to educate Matt.  Mrs. Nora is the headmistress of St. Elene’s Prep Academy for Girls and yep, that’s how Meryl Lee and Matt came together. 

This book was quite the journey!  Following Matt’s history and the roads that he has traveled was quite an adventure in itself.  The book really took off when Meryl Lee met Matt.  I had to laugh when Matt was waving a hatchet in his boxers and then, my body was covered in chills and the words seems to be running all together as Meryl Lee hides Matt on the bus.  Dang, this book had my emotions all over the place.  There were a lot of fantastic moments in the book, parts where the words on the page touched something deep within me.  It may be set in the 1960’s but some things never change.  Pick this one up, you’ll be glad you did.