Title: In the Role of Brie Hutchens…
Author: Nicole Melleby
Genre: Middle Grade, LGBT, Contemporary
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: June 30, 2020
Introducing Brie Hutchens: soap opera super fan, aspiring actor, and so-so student at her small Catholic school. Brie has big plans for eighth grade. She’s going to be the star of the school play and convince her parents to let her go to the performing arts high school. But when Brie’s mom walks in on her accidentally looking at some possibly inappropriate photos of her favorite actress, Brie panics and blurts out that she’s been chosen to crown the Mary statue during her school’s May Crowning ceremony. Brie’s mom is distracted with pride—but Brie’s in big trouble: she has not been chosen. No one has. Worse, Brie has almost no chance to get the job, which always goes to a top student.
Desperate to make her lie become truth, Brie turns to Kennedy, the girl everyone expects to crown Mary. But sometimes just looking at Kennedy gives Brie butterflies. Juggling her confusing feelings with the rapidly approaching May Crowning, not to mention her hilarious non-star turn in the school play, Brie navigates truth and lies, expectations and identity, and how to—finally—make her mother really see her as she is.
When Brie’s mother almost catches her looking at photos of a naked woman, she tells her mom that she was chosen to crown the statue of Mary at the end of the school year. She told her mom that to distract her, but Brie wasn’t chosen to crown Mary, and she probably won’t be since that special role is given to one of the best students. After that moment, Brie realizes she may like girls more than boys, since she isn’t boy crazy like her best friend. Meanwhile, Brie really wants to be an actress. She wants to audition for the acting program at an arts high school, but her parents may not be able to afford the tuition. Brie is discovering herself and how to share her identity with her family and friends.
This story dealt with so many important topics in the life of a middle schooler. Brie’s family is going through changes. Her father lost his job, and got a job at her school to get a discount on tuition. The problem was that Brie was embarrassed for the other students to know he was her dad. Her father was also depressed, and Brie had a difficult time figuring out how to behave around him while he struggled. Brie also had some problems with her mother, who wasn’t completely supportive when she learned that Brie may like girls.
Brie was learning about her sexuality. She doesn’t like boys the way her friend does. She could relate to the queer characters in her soap operas, so she suspects that she is queer too. This was especially difficult because Brie’s family was religious and she went to catholic school. It was heartbreaking to see the way Brie acknowledged she had to hide her true identity because it wouldn’t be accepted at school or in her home.
This story was heartbreaking but also uplifting.
Thank you Algonquin Young Readers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Hurricane Season by Nicole Melleby
George by Alex Gino
About the author:
Nicole Melleby is a born-and-bred Jersey girl with a passion for storytelling. She studied creative writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University and currently teaches creative writing and literature courses with a handful of local universities. When she’s not writing, she can be found browsing the shelves at her local comic shop or watching soap operas with a cup of tea.
Have you read In the Role of Brie Hutchens…? What did you think of it?