Merci Suárez Changes Gears
File:Merci Suárez Changes Gears (Medina, 2018).jpg
AuthorMeg Medina
CountryUnited States
PublisherCandlewick Press
Publication date
February 5, 2019
AwardsNewbery Medal (2020)

Merci Suárez Changes Gears is a 2018 children's book written by Meg Medina. Mercedes "Merci" Suárez, the eponymous heroine, is a sixth grade scholarship student at an elite private school in South Florida. The novel details her struggles at school and home. The novel was awarded the 2019 Newbery Medal.

Plot summary

Merci Suárez is a Cuban-American student starting the sixth grade (her second year) at Seaward Pines Academy, which she and her older brother Roli attend on scholarship. As part of her scholarship obligation, Merci mentors new student Michael Clark for the "Sunshine Buddies" program. Michael draws the interest of fellow student and mean girl Edna Santos, adding to the pressure on Merci at school. The Suárez family lives as an extended group in three neighboring houses: one for Merci, Roli, and their parents; another for Merci's tía Inéz, who runs a bakery while raising young twin sons Axel and Tomás; and the third for her abuela and abuelo, Lolo, who has always been in charge of walking the children home from school.

Merci Suarez never realized that 6th would be so hard–even with a scientific genius for a brother. That was before she met Edna Santos, started babysitting her 2 annoying cousin brothers, and becomes a Sunshine Buddy, and to top it all off, her grandfather (Lolo), her main supporter, has Alzheimer's disease, which has no known cure. Merci is also an amazing, budding soccer champion, who is so good, that she can “Play for za Feefa” says Simon (one of her dad’s football friends). She might even dare to try out for the school team–if only her mom would sign the permission form. There is only one thing that Merci has been wanting for the longest time; a new bike. To get it, she saves up money to buy it, but bikes are getting more expensive, and her family is not rich at all. All this, with her grandfather’s sickness, and mean Edna and her “swarm of cawing crows” is building the pressure on Merci Suarez. Will she survive the sixth grade?


Medina drew on her own experience growing up near her extended family as well as the history of her mother's cousins, who lived in three neighboring houses in Florida.[1] Medina's experience in caring for her elderly mother, mother-in-law, and aunt also contributed to the realistic portrayal of aging in the novel.[1]


The novel received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews,[2] The Horn Book,[3] Publishers Weekly,[4] and School Library Journal.[5]

At its annual meeting in January 2019, the American Library Association awarded the Newbery Medal to Merci Suárez Changes Gears.[6]


  1. ^ a b Meg Medina (2018). "Merci Suárez Changes Gears [review and interview]". Shelf-Awareness (Interview). Interviewed by Siân Gaetano. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  2. ^ "Merci Suárez Changes Gears (starred review)". Kirkus Reviews. June 25, 2018. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  3. ^ Lugo, Sujei (September 1, 2018). "Review of Merci Suárez Changes Gears". The Horn Book. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  4. ^ "Merci Suárez Changes Gears (starred review)". Publishers Weekly. 2018. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  5. ^ Drehobl, Brittany (July 1, 2018). "Merci Suárez Changes Gears (starred review)". School Library Journal. Retrieved 15 February 2019.(subscription required)
  6. ^ "2019 Youth Media Award Winners". American Libraries Magazine. Retrieved 2019-01-29.

External links

Preceded by
Hello, Universe
Newbery Medal recipient
Succeeded by
New Kid