by Jane Kelley
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, Feiwel & Friends
Source: ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
This sounded like a great book that kids in grades 5-8 would enjoy. Best friends are starting middle school and suddenly things are different and they’re hanging out with different people. Val meets a strange and mysterious boy while she tries to figure out how to get Lanora to be her friend again. Lanora is struggling to deal with her parents’ divorce and tries to fit in with the most popular girls in school. There is a sense of magic that permeates the story, but even the sense of mystery doesn’t save this story.
A lot of potential lies within this novel. I would love to see Tasman’s story a little more developed, filling him out and letting us understand him a bit more--or allowing for other characters to understand him. Everyone is very confused about him, even at the end of the novel. The energy and mystery surrounding him and the story is where the story really lies and this could have helped to create more interest in characters.
The characters were underdeveloped and unbelievable. Val and Lanora have been friends forever, but we don’t really get to see that at all, except for a few pages at the beginning, and even within those pages, Lanora is already plotting her break from Val. The break makes no sense. Even with Lanora feeling upset over her parents’ divorce, her actions and emotions don’t feel believable. She quickly becomes an emotionless being, who thinks a little too logically and rationally, and I immediately dislike her. I can’t even feel sorry for her because her actions: breaking ties from her friend, being rude to her mother, and other actions I will not disclose seem to come from another place that has nothing to do with anything. She just seems like a mean person.
There are other characters which are unbelievable as well. Tasman, the boy Val meets, is strange and speaks in a way that shows he is smart, but he doesn’t attend school. He brings in a mysticism to the story, but it’s strange and not fully developed, leaving a lot unanswered and empty. We know he lives with a man his grandfather, and maybe his father, knew, but that they are not around anymore, but we don’t know why, although it’s later explained slightly. There are hints to a troubled life for Tasman, but still it’s unclear exactly what is wrong--just that he is strange. Val’s brother is also unbelievable, knowing a lot for a six year old.
Last, but not least there was a cat. Several times in the story, we saw things through her point of view. It was confusing because the only importance she had was that she brought Val to Tasman, but this could have been accomplished without the cat.
Overall, I wouldn’t jump up and down and rush to the store to grab this book.
Image Source: Goodreads
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