Things That Surprise You

ISBN: 978-0062438928
Cover Illustration © Kathrin Honesta

Emily Murphy is about to enter middle school. She’s sort of excited… though not nearly as much as her best friend Hazel, who is ready for everything to be new. Emily wishes she and Hazel could just continue on as they always have, being the biggest fans ever of the Unicorn Chronicles, making up dance moves, and getting their regular order at the Slice.

But things are changing. At home, Emily and her mom are learning to move on after her parents’ divorce. Hardest of all, her beloved sister Mina has been in a treatment facility to deal with her anorexia. Emily is eager to have her back, but anxious about her sister getting sick again.

Hazel is changing, too. She has new friends from the field hockey team, is starting to wear makeup, and has crushes on boys. Emily is trying to keep up, but she keeps doing and saying the wrong things. She wants to be the perfect new Em. But who is that really?

THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU is a bighearted, poignant novel about the often shifting bonds of family and friendship.

“A highly devourable novel at once honest, heartbreaking, and hilarious. Emily Murphy is all of us, striving to discover the best versions of ourselves in world where change is never easy and often unavoidable, but worth it in the end.”

John David Anderson, author of Posted and Ms. Bixby’s Last Day

“Engaging and believably realistic…a fine read.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Recommended for middle grade collections, especially for readers with friends or family members dealing with eating disorders.”

School Library Journal 

“Emily’s story is a must read for any middle schooler…it’s realistic and true and students will appreciate some of the “messy” truths about life as a young adult.”

Amanda Schreiber, 5th grade teacher and blogger at My Shoestring Life 

“Emily’s character really rang true for me…add this one to your list of books that should come with tissues.”

Gigi, 4th grade teacher and blogger at The Late Bloomer’s Book Blog

“Thoughtful and original”

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Emily’s first-person narrative is honest and endearing. . . . Readers will root for and relate to Emily.”

Brenda Kahn at Proseandkahn