(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Two distinct, thoroughly likable voices emerge in Van Draanen's (the Sammy Keyes series) enticing story, relayed alternately by eighth graders Bryce and Juli. When Juli moved in across the street from Bryce, just before second grade, he found the feisty, friendly girl overwhelming and off-putting, and tried to distance himself from her but then eighth grade rolls around. Within the framework of their complex, intermittently antagonistic and affectionate rapport, the author shapes insightful portraits of their dissimilar families. Among the most affecting supporting characters are Bryce's grandfather, who helps Juli spruce up her family's eyesore of a yard after Bryce makes an unkind remark about the property, and Juli's father, a deep-feeling artist who tries to explain to his daughter how a painting becomes more than the sum of its parts. Juli finally understands this notion after she discovers the exhilaration of sitting high in a beloved tree in her neighborhood ("The view from my sycamore was more than rooftops and clouds and wind and colors combined"). Although the relationship between Bryce's grandfather and his own family remains a bit sketchy, his growing bond with Juli is credibly and poignantly developed. A couple of coincidences are a bit convenient, but Van Draanen succeeds in presenting two entirely authentic perspectives on the same incidents without becoming repetitious. With a charismatic leading lady kids will flip over, a compelling dynamic between the two narrators and a resonant ending (including a clever double entendre on the title), this novel is a great deal larger than the sum of its parts. Ages 10-14. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Gr. 5-8. The author of the popular Sammy Keyes mysteries proves herself just as good at writing a charming romance. From the moment seven-year-old Bryce moves into the neighborhood, Julianna is enthralled: "It's his eyes . . . they're dazzling." Bryce, on the other hand, is horrified. In typical second-grade boy fashion, he believes that "All I've ever wanted is for Juli Baker to leave me alone." Six years later, however, the two have flipped: now Bryce is enthralled with Juli's uniqueness, and Juli is repulsed by Bryce's selfish immaturity. Told in alternate chapters from each teen's perspective, this is a wry character study, a romance with substance and subtlety. Juli gradually learns the painful lesson that she must look beyond gorgeous eyes and popularity. Bryce slowly realizes his grandfather's wisdom: "Every once in a while you'll find someone iridescent, and when you do, nothing will ever compare." Both teens realize that standing up for what--and whom--they believe can be a difficult challenge, one faced best with true friends and close family. --Frances Bradburn