Review / Keep it Together, Keiko Carter

Keep it Together Keiko CarterBook: Keep it Together, Keiko Carter (2020)
Author: Debbi Michiko Florence
Genre: MG, Contemporary

Basic plot: Keiko is best friends with Audrey and Jenna. They decide to make it the goal of the new school year by getting boyfriends. But things become complicated when Jenna and Audrey fall for the same boy. And then Keiko has to deal with her first crush; the confusing behaviour of Audrey’s brother, Conner; her mom being perpetually gone; and just all-around trying to keep everything together…


1) Keiko is best friends with two girls: Jenna and Audrey. I love this dynamic. Seeing the three girls interact at the beginning is wonderful. Of course, because it’s a book, there’s got to be some conflict to appear and it certainly does.

2) I loved the dog connection in this book! Conner’s dog, Lumpy, is such a fun addition. I just wish there had been more to the animal shelter part of the book. It might have been nice to have Keiko volunteer at the shelter, only to discover that Conner volunteered there as well! (And make it more awkward.)

3) The chocolate references throughout the book are fun. I like how Keiko makes her special spicy hot chocolate (such weird ingredients! I do wonder how it tastes) and how that fits in with the plot. Especially with regards to Audrey and Conner.

4) There was some great tension with the mom being gone all the time. And then, tying that into Jenna’s parents who just got a divorce. I liked how that all came to a head and got resolved.

5) I liked the scenes with the sister, Macy. Especially with her little secret that she’s keeping from Keiko. (Slight Spoiler) It’s theatre-related. (End Spoiler)


1) I didn’t really like the ending with regards to Audrey. I wanted a better, more satisfying ending. (Spoiler Alert!) Keiko ends up as Conner’s girlfriend, and I don’t see why Audrey doesn’t think this is a good thing. Keiko and Conner could get married and they’d be sisters!! Instead, Keiko chooses Conner over Audrey. I would have liked it if Audrey figured out that choosing doesn’t have to be a part of her world. (End Spoiler)


A cute book about middle school dating. I’m not usually crazy about these types of books (I’d rather keep it at first crushes in middle school and save the dating for YA), but this one worked. I would recommend to young people who are looking for a little sweet romance!


Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

11 thoughts on “Review / Keep it Together, Keiko Carter

  1. Ah, but middle school readers LOVE romance books! I have to admit that I loved them when I was that age as well (Cleary’s Jean and Johnny, etc.), but now they just seem silly. This was a good title for a lot of reasons.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds like a great book! Dating in MG books usually bothers me as well, so I’m glad it worked for you. It’s a shame that the ending is somewhat flawed. Thanks for the great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Intriguing story line for middle grade. I agree with Ms. Yingling that romance books are popular with this age group. I have added this to my TBR list and thanks for featuring on Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.


  4. It’s nice to see all girl friendships at this age, which I always think is more realistic than the boy-girl friendships that are in so many MG novels. I don’t tend to like to see dating in MG, but it sounds like this is handled well.
    Thanks for an interesting review!


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