Book review – Ellen Outside the Lines (Spoiler Free)

“We’re a family, Ellen, but we’re not all the same. And that’s a good thing.”

  • Title: Ellen Outside the Lines
  • Author: A. J. Sass
  • Genre: MG Fiction
  • Pages: 336 pages
  • Publication date: March 22, 2022

I can’t remember exactly where I first heard of Ellen Outside The Lines. I’ve seen that cover so many times on so many recommendation lists. But I finally got it. 

Ellen Outside The Lines follows Ellen, someone who loves everything when it fits into boxes and follows a schedule. But as she travels to Spain for a class trip, her schedule gets knocked off its axis. She’s assigned to a group to work on a scavenger hunt across Spain—without her best friend, her constant. Navigating new friendships and a new country, Ellen might just discover a new comfortable place for herself along the way.  

Many memorable characters who all stand on their own fill this book. They are all diverse as well, which helps the world feel more realistic. It was great to see so much good representation on the page. There was some outing and misgendering, but both were challenged and discussed well. The main representations were gay, nonbinary, autism, and Muslim. Overall, this book felt like a safe place for diversity.

It also describes some cool artistic places throughout their scavenger hunt, which had me looking up pictures. I felt like I got to step into Spain and learn some history without feeling like I’m being taught. Sass also did a good job of not directly translating after a foreign word, which usually is awkward.

It was actually hard to find anything to critique for this book. But my main one would be how, while the main crew grew stronger and together, other side characters seemed to get away with a lot. That part came off as a little awkward to me. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it. 

Score: 9.5/10
Average rating on Goodreads: 4.46/5

3 thoughts on “Book review – Ellen Outside the Lines (Spoiler Free)

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