When fifth grader Mika first enters middle school, she doesn’t expect to like math class. Her favorite subject has always been art. But her math teacher, Mr. Vann, gives them ‘math journals’, in which he encourages them to solve problems ‘using words, numbers, and/or pictures,’ not just formulas. And it’s in Mr. Vann’s room that she gets to know two new friends, Dee Dee and Chelsea. So it’s no surprise that math class swiftly becomes one of her favorites.
Nevertheless, although Mika seems on her way to enjoying fifth grade, life is more complicated than just numbers. And when she’s confronted with a problem that equations alone can’t solve, she begins to wonder if her life will ever be the same again.
Solving for M has the same coming-of-age feeling as Lucy Castor Finds Her Sparkle, and elements of math similar to The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl. This book is about family and friendship and math, but maybe more than any of those, it’s about growing up. Mika is a very relatable main character to kids in many different situations, whether or not they’re experiencing the same things she is. I recommend Solving for M to readers ages nine and up who love math and stories which feel very real.
Note: If you like Solving for M, check out our interview with author Jennifer Swender!