New Angle, Old Story

and sometimes why, by Mame Farrell.

I admit it – I’m a sucker for a happy ending, and this book doesn’t exactly provide “happy,” but I think the angle of the story is refreshing enough for it to be forgiven its, at times, uneven narrative and aggravatingly sly and knowing ‘wink,wink’ in-jokes. Like it or hate it – it’s a good shot for a boy-and-girl-friendship novel.

Chris and Jack are best friends. Chris is a better swimmer, tennis player, and runner than Jack, but that doesn’t bother them. Chris had to teach Jack what vowels were in the first grade. This still isn’t a problem for Jack. What becomes a problem is when Chris starts to grow into her birthright of being Christy – a girl with beautiful eyes, long legs, and boyfriends. This is not your typical ‘Pretty in Pink’ scenario when the ugly duckling grows up and gets the hunky boy, loses him, and goes back to her best friend. (Okay, so that probably doesn’t happen in the movie either. Sue me.) In those scenarios, boys don’t faint, and girl’s don’t knock them out with their fists. But, Farrell has a bittersweet, ambivalent story of growing up that is quirky and funny and all about the ‘tween’ years.

The theme of resisting change is a good one, and Jack resists change with all his might. He does some truly brainless things in order to, in his mind, Keep Things The Way They Are. And his meddling is not appreciated. Chris’s reaction to Jack’s last attempt to hold back change might surprise you — but then again, it might not.

The unevenness of the book shows more towards the end, because Farrell’s characterization of the way a boy thinks and might react don’t ring quite as true to me, and at some points, the misapprehensions of what is really going on vs. what only seems to be going on appears to be stretched just a tad. However, I did like the refreshing idea that sometimes romance is overrated, and that a solid friendship is really well worth the effort. And the scenario which places Christy’s dad, a former construction worker into the role of a professional hair stylist– who is straight — just blows yet another stereotype all to hell and back.

Read it? Comments?

About the author

tanita s. davis is a writer and avid reader who prefers books to most things in the world, including people. That's ...pretty much it, she's very boring and she can't even tell jokes. She is, however, the author of nine books, including Serena Says, Partly Cloudy, Go Figure, Henri Weldon, and the Coretta Scott King honored Mare's War. Look for her new MG, The Science of Friendship in 1/2024 from Katherine Tegen Books.

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