Note: I listened to this book using Overdrives new app Libby where you can borrow e-books and audio books for free using your library card. I would recommend checking it out if you are in to listening to books.
I liked this book! I gave it 4 Stars on Goodreads, and had a fun time listening to it. The audiobook was well produced with a number of different narrators for the different chapter perspectives. I do admit I’ve never quite gotten used to 12 year old characters being read by adults, it still takes me out of it sometimes.
My favourite thing about this book was that it left room for complexity and nuance in the lives of young people. Although young people’s views on the world are still forming, and are even likely to change one day, their thinking is real and legitimate and they have good ideas and negotiate complexly with a complicated world, and I appreciate when authors actually reflect that in their writing. For example. there were times while reading this book that I didn’t know what to think of a characters choices, like I genuinely didn’t know what I would do if I were them. To explore those types of moral quandaries in the lives of 7th graders was impressive to me.
Not only are young people’s choices complicated, so are their forming relationships. This book was a display of all the different types of relationships a young person develops in their lives; friends, crushes, boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, teachers, mentors, and rivals all given complexity and life. The highlight for me was the emphasis placed on the novel’s friendships. I love when a story of “falling in friends” is just as exhilarating as a story of “falling in love”. I also loved the interconnectedness of the character’s lives. Being human is not an individual experience, it’s a group project and this book really nailed that.
This book was refreshingly modern, and pleasantly culturally diverse. Although I felt like it could have been benefited by being set somewhere other than New York city (so cliché), if being set in New York is what it takes to write an intricately diverse cast, I’ll take it.
Bravo Rebecca Stead.