When twelve-year-old Cove Bernstein becomes the target of a school-wide bullying campaign, she sets out to find a way to leave her home on Martha’s Vineyard for New York City, where her best friend lives. But Cove discovers that friends can appear in the unlikeliest places, and maybe home isn’t the worst place to be after all.

out of place jennifer blecher review


Cove Bernstein’s life on Martha’s Vineyard isn’t perfect. But at least she’s got her best friend Nina. So even when the other girls call her a dog (for no real reason) and bark at her, she’s alright. She has Nina, and Nina has her. However, when Nina’s dads decide to move to New York to pursue an art career, Cove is crushed and literally friendless. Her mother wants to stay on Martha’s Vineyard forever; she doesn’t even want Cove to leave for a visit to New York.

Things seem to look up when she stumbles on a reality TV show — Create You. Show participants have to sew outfits that represent them and meet the judges’ criteria. Create You is filmed in New York, so Cove hopes that entering the show will be her ticket to reuniting with Nina. There’s only one problem though: Cove can’t sew. In the meantime, the return to school after summer means more bullying.

The Good

This story has a powerful depiction of how bullying affects children. Yet, what I liked is that this isn’t the average “physical bullying” where there’s pushing and shoving. It’s really more mental and emotional. Cove might never have felt physically threatened by the kids who bullied her, but there was enough emotional anguish to go around.

I also liked how well (and yet sensitively) the author portrayed how potent loneliness can be. Cove’s loneliness is a cloud that hovers throughout the entire book. She’s in that in-between age and is constantly looking for a friend, somewhere to belong — you can’t help but ache for her. Toward the end, Cove has to make a moral decision and I just loved how the author handled it.

The reality show element also makes the story interesting, as well as Cove’s being raised by a single parent. More and more kids are in such a situation now. I loved Anna’s character and the role she plays in Cove’s life. Then, finally, there’s Cove and Nina’s pure friendship and how that can evolve when people move.

The Bad

Out of Place left me wanting more about Cove’s mother and her desire to stay where she was. She seemed like an interesting character to explore further. And this story does lag in certain places.

Note: This book also has illustrations, but I can’t comment on them as I listened to the audio. The narrator does well, though, and I’d recommend it, if you’re deliberating.


Out of Place by Jennifer Blecher is a delicately woven slice-of-life novel about bullying, friendship, and wanting more out of life. This novel perfectly captures what it’s like to be an almost-teen who feels out of place in her world. It also explores how kids can cope when a best friend moves away. If you’re looking for a moving summery novel with unlikely friendships and character growth, you’ll enjoy Out of Place.

Buy Out of Place on Amazon

cover of out of place by jennifer blecher

Out of Place by @jblecher perfectly captures what it's like to be an almost-teen who feels out of place in her world. It also explores how kids can cope when a best friend moves away. @HarperChildrens Tweet about this

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Have you read this book? What did you think? What are your favorite bullying-related books? I’d love to know!

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