As I mentioned in my last post, I've been on a huge mystery kick lately. After reading a couple YA mysteries and mystery series, I found Drew Leclair Gets a Clue by Katryn Bury as an ebook at the library and added it to my TBR list. There are currently two books in the series, and before I even started the first, I got an offer from Wunderkind PR to read the second! I love nothing more than reading sequels and series back to back, so I jumped at the chance.
In Drew Leclair Gets a Clue, true crime fanatic Drew (named for Nancy Drew) tackles a cyberbully that is embarrassing kids at her middle school. On top of wanting to solve the mystery, Drew also deals with her mother leaving the family for a new boyfriend---who just happens to have been the counselor at Drew's school! So she's dealing with that humiliation in her social life and also the devastation of her home life. Beyond that, Shrey, her best friend, is now romantically interested in her, and Drew just doesn't feel that way, for him or anyone. It's a lot to tackle, but Drew is 12, and that's the age when this type of problem seems to pile up.
In Drew Leclaire Crushes the Case, Drew now knows her two best friends will help her solve mysteries at school, so she has a good support system. However, her mom is swooping back into her life and messing it all up in the process, and her dad is starting to date, but hides it from Drew. Shrey has a girlfriend and Drew can't process her feelings about that development, especially because she realizes she also has feelings for someone in her friend group.
These middle-grade books seem ideal for all ages. While Drew and her friends are 12, in seventh grades, the parents are just active enough in the story to keep me interested, but not to the extent that they bog down the action for younger readers. Drew has unique relationships with both parents - her dad loves true crime and totally gets her, while her mom wants her to be something else and makes her feel abandoned. I think these are great dynamics to address in a middle-grade series.
Drew's friend group is incredibly diverse, with people of all skin tones and cultural backgrounds. Drew herself has chronic illnesses, and other characters in the books have differing abilities yet are completely accepted at school and in their social circles, which is refreshing. Above it all, Drew is bisexual and has gay and lesbian friends. There's no issue of LGBTQIA+ being acceptable in school or by parents, so I think this series is one that will empower younger children to embrace who they are, as well as those around them.
All of these elements work together to make a compelling cast of characters, but still - mysteries are the highlight of these books. Drew walks the readers through her detective process, including making notes about the case, eliminating suspects, and designing her famous crime boards. Author Katryn Bury is a true crime fanatic herself, which shows in the plotlines. I can't wait to read more in this series and see what mysteries Drew will solve next!