2023 Foreword Indies Book of the Year Finalist
2023 Moonbeam Awards Gold Medalist (Pre-Teen Fiction – Mature Issues)
34th Annual Reading the West Book Awards Nominee – Young Readers
2023 Cybils Award Nominee – Middle-Grade Fiction
A 2024 OLA Intermediate Sequoyah Masterlist selection

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?

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“Dunlap writes with compassion about factors that render adolescents particularly vulnerable to trafficking and what it takes to keep them safe; she offers insights into how excruciating self-consciousness prevents victims from seeking help or sharing their experiences. A powerful work.” —Kirkus Reviews

“In It Happened on Saturday, Julia faces harrowing trauma and uses her experience to help others. Trafficking is something everyone needs to know about. This book could, literally, save your life.” Kathryn Erskine, National Book Award-winning author of Mockingbird

“Told with heart, sensitivity, and hope, It Happened on Saturday is a compelling, age-appropriate reminder about the dangers of social media and the threat of human trafficking.” —Michael Leali, author of The Civil War of Amos Abernathy

It Happened on Saturday is a sobering and necessary read. Sydney effectively tells a tough story with language that readers will recognize and identify with. Sadly, this story is not just fiction, but I believe that it will leave readers with real courage, like main character Julia’s—courage to speak their truth and courage to protect each other.” —Kelly J. Baptist, author of Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero

It Happened on Saturday by Sydney Dunlap is the heart-pounding story of one 13-year-old girl’s brush with human trafficking. Julia’s fresh feelings of loneliness as she and her friends grow and change motivate her to take dangerous risks as she tries to find acceptance with a stranger she meets online. The story follows Julia through and beyond her experience with emotionally true resonance, and is woven through with subplots, such as Julia’s love of horses, that will appeal to middle grade readers. A compelling novel that is also a cautionary tale, and should be read by parents, teachers, and kids alike.” —Janet Fox, author of Carry Me Home

“Every tween should read this book.” —K.L. Going, author of Printz honor book Fat Kid Rules the World

“The danger that Julia falls into, her bravery to fight her way out, and her emotional journey to heal is a story that will resonate with readers long after they close this book. I hope every young person, every parent, everyone who works with young people will read this book. It’s that important.” —Barbara Roberts, author of Nikki on the Line

“Sydney Dunlap tackles a timely and serious topic in a way that’s accessible, realistic, and eye-opening. Readers will be gripped by Julia’s story and smarter after finishing it. As a mom of young teens, I can say that It Happened on Saturday is a must-read! —Erin Teagan, author of American Girl Luciana and Kira books

“Sydney Dunlap has written a fictional story that very accurately portrays a real-life situation – how a young girl is tricked into becoming a victim of trafficking. Sydney writes in such a way that the words, emotions, and interactions take us directly into the heart of this young girl. I would urge every tween, teenager, parent, and even grandparents, to read this book. It Happened on Saturday is a compelling story that will enable the reader to understand how the crime of trafficking does happen in our own backyards.” —Sherrie Jerke, Former Director at Traffick911