Cover image for You go first / Erin Entrada Kelly.
You go first / Erin Entrada Kelly.
First paperback edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2019.

Physical Description:
304 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm
Charlotte, twelve, and Ben, eleven, are highly-skilled competitors at online Scrabble and that connection helps both as they face family issues and the turmoil of middle school.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
KEL Paperback Junior Paperback Fiction
KEL Paperback Junior Paperback Fiction

On Order



Funny and poignant, Newbery Medalist and New York Times bestseller Erin Entrada Kelly's national bestseller You Go First is an exploration of family, bullying, word games, art, and the ever-complicated world of middle school friendships.

In a starred review, School Library Journal wrote that Erin Entrada Kelly can "capture moments of tween anguish with searing honesty."

Twelve-year-old Charlotte Lockard and eleven-year-old Ben Boxer are separated by more than a thousand miles. On the surface, their lives seem vastly different--Charlotte lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while Ben is in the small town of Lanester, Louisiana.

Charlotte wants to be a geologist and keeps a rock collection in her room. Ben is obsessed with Harry Potter, presidential history, and recycling. But the two have more in common than they think. They're both highly gifted. They're both experiencing family turmoil. And they both sit alone at lunch.

During the course of one week, Charlotte and Ben--friends connected only by an online Scrabble game--will intersect in unexpected ways as they struggle to navigate the turmoil of middle school. The New York Times-bestselling novel You Go First reminds us that no matter how hard it is to keep our heads above troubled water, we never struggle alone.

Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly writes with an authentic, humorous, and irresistible voice. This engaging and character-driven story about growing up and finding your place in the world is for fans of Rebecca Stead and Rita Williams-Garcia.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

In Newbery Medalist Kelly¿s (Hello, Universe) new novel, a long-distance online friendship provides a lifeline for two brainy, lonely kids facing turbulent events. Tautly plotted, the narrative alternates points of view between 12-year-old Charlotte in the Philadelphia suburbs and 11-year-old Ben in Louisiana, who share a love of words and play a running game of online Scrabble. During one tumultuous week each faces grave challenges: Charlotte can¿t face her father¿s heart attack and struggles as her former best friend shifts into a more popular clique, and loner Ben denies the impact of his parents¿ divorce and plunges himself into an out-of-character student council election. Kelly balances the humiliations of middle school¿the desperation over where to sit at lunch, bullying, and social jockeying¿with real kindness; each protagonist believably becomes more honest and forms new connections. Ultimately, Kelly crafts an incisive portrait of friendship and resilience. Ages 8¿12. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (Apr.)

Horn Book Review

Two brainy middle-school outcasts--twelve-year-old Charlotte and eleven-year-old Ben--find companionship through a longstanding, long-distance online Scrabble rivalry while dealing with upheaval in their lives. Neither one confides in the other, but slowly they begin to communicate outside the game. With character-revealing prose, Kelly holds readers' attention as the narration moves back and forth between the fully realized protagonists and their intricately drawn home and school settings. (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

New York Review of Books Review

CALYPSO, by David Sedaris. (Little, Brown, $28.) In his new collection of comic personal essays, Sedaris - who is now 61 - grapples seriously with themes of family, mortality and illness. As always, his very essence seeps through the pages like an intoxicating cloud. ALL FOR NOTHING, by Walter Kempowski. Translated by Anthea Bell. (New York Review Books, paper, $16.95.) Until recently, the plight of the nearly 750,000 Germans who fled East Prussia in the last days of World War II remained a taboo subject in fiction. Kempowski's novel, a work of lyrical melancholy originally published in German in 2006, conjures a privileged East Prussian family who must decide whether to join the exodus. INSANE: America's Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness, by Alissá Roth. (Basic Books, $28.) Roth offers a searing examination of how prisons have become the dumping ground for the mentally ill, where they are subjected to inhumane mistreatment. PROPERTY, by Lionel Shriver. (Harper/HarperCollins, $26.99.) A collection of short fiction that becomes a wry catalog of the many ways an acquisitive urge can go astray. Renters become unhappy owners; a wedding gift prompts a battle among friends; a man and his father feud over ?160 and the price of an airmail stamp. THE ELECTRIC WOMAN: A Memoir in Death-Defying Acts, by Tessa Fontaine. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) Fontaine's assured debut recounts her training as a carnival performer, eating fire and handling boa constrictors, even as it traces her difficult relationship with her mother - sometimes its own sideshow act. WAR ON PEACE: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence, by Ronan Farrow. (Norton, $27.95.) At a time when the Trump administration is gutting the State Department and filling foreign policy jobs with military officers, Farrow offers a lament for the plight of America's diplomats, and explains why it matters. COUNTRY DARK, by Chris Offutt. (Grove, $24.) This family saga, featuring a Korean War veteran and his wife in the world of Kentucky moonshiners, is as dark as the title implies - violence and bad luck abound - but also so deeply humane that winsome twinkles shine through the blackness. YOU GO FIRST, by Erin Entrada Kelly. (Greenwillow, $16.99; ages 8 to 12.) A novel by the 2017 Newbery medalist follows two struggling kids who meet playing Scrabble online and convert their virtual bond into a real-life friendship. ENDLING THE LAST, by Katherine Applegate. (Harper, $17.99; ages 8 to 12.) Applegate starts a new series, about the last member of a dog-human hybrid species, mixing lovely prose and fast-paced fantasy to explore extinction and destructive human appetites. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: