Blog Tour Review: It Happened on Saturday by Sydney Dunlap

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An educational book for middle grade readers that tackles extremely tough subjects

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Sydney Dunlap for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with complimentary ARC and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Publishing Date:
February 21, 2023

Thirteen-year-old Julia would much rather work with horses at the rescue barn than worry about things like dating and makeup. But when her BFF meets a boy at camp, Julia’s determined not to get left behind. After a makeover from her older sister, she posts a picture of herself online and gets a comment from Tyler—a seemingly nice kid who lives across town. As they DM more and more, Julia’s sure that Tyler understands her in a way her family never has. Even better, their relationship earns her tons of attention at school.

Then Julia finds out Tyler’s true plan, and her world is turned upside down. She fiercely guards her secret, but could her silence allow her friends to fall into the same trap?

In this timely, heartfelt debut, author Sydney Dunlap tells a story of a middle-school girl who narrowly escapes becoming a victim of human trafficking and must find her way toward hope and healing after this traumatic event.

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for these book, check out

About the Authors

Sydney Dunlap is a former elementary school teacher who has worked with at-risk youth in a variety of settings, and she enjoys reading and writing heartfelt, hopeful fiction that expands young readers’ awareness of tough topics. She is a published poet and has also written for a newspaper. A lifelong animal lover, Sydney lives with her family in a home where the dogs and cats outnumber the people.

Author Links:

Review (no spoilers)

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

Before I get into my review, I have to get out this random thought that I have which is that for some reason, the cover of this book is giving me novel-in-verse vibes and I have no idea why. This isn’t a novel-in-verse, I just keep looking at that cover and being like, “yes, poetry”.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into It Happened on Saturday!

This book tackles some very tough themes, so I definitely have to start off by saying that it might not be for everyone. The main plot revolves around the thirteen year old main character, Julia, suffering a traumatic event in which she narrowly escapes being kidnapped and used for child trafficking. The author of this book volunteers for several anti-trafficking organizations, and has an authors note at the very beginning of the book explaining that she wrote this to help inform children about what preventative measures they can take to protect themselves and others.

There were times when continuing to read was particularly hard, because Julia was clearly going through a lot while feeling like she had very little support. As well-meaning as some of the people around her might have been, there were definitely moments when their words and actions were not what Julia needed at the time. I can imagine that many of the middle-grade readers who pick up this book will be able to identify with Julia’s sense of loneliness and isolation. I’m hoping that they learn valuable lessons from these pages.

There was only one thing that I wasn’t sure how to feel about with this book, and it was the author’s treatment of Nori. Julia’s best friend, Nori, is Japanese American, and there were times where I felt uncomfortable with how many times the author seemed to remind the readers of this fact. Whether it be the fact that Nori almost immediately mentions mochi in one of her first conversations with Julia, the descriptions of cherry blossoms and kanji in Nori’s house, or the repeated reminder that Nori’s mom is almost always cooking Japanese food.

Regardless, It Happened on Saturday is a book with messages about safety and communication that are, I believe, absolutely essential for the youth of today. As our lives become more and more online, children need to realized the dangers that come along with this. I think Dunlap did a good job at treating these topics with the care and attention that they deserve.


One thought on “Blog Tour Review: It Happened on Saturday by Sydney Dunlap

  1. ratmom February 22, 2023 / 2:05 pm

    Too many teens have no idea that bad things like this can happen really fast so I like that this book tackles that.

    Liked by 1 person

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