After I read Romeo Blue by Phoebe Stone, I wanted to read more of this author’s work. Although appropriate for middle graders, the two books that I have read so far are by no means unappealing for adults.
Louisa Terrace is 13, lives with her grandparents, and is going to a new school this year. At first, we aren’t sure why any of this is the case, except we know she is withdrawn and angry, doesn’t feel anything except resentment toward her grandparents, and has a big blockage in her memory. Even her two best friends, brother and sister Henderson and Reni, don’t know her secret. We gradually find out as the story progresses.
Meanwhile, Louisa (who has such a diminutive stature she calls herself “Thumbelina”) starts getting anonymous love notes from someone. She and Reni think they are from the cute pizza delivery guy, Benny McCartney. But they aren’t sure. It makes Louisa uncomfortable, but Reni tells her:
“You should be happy. I never got a letter from Justin Bieber, and I wrote him five times. I can understand not answering one letter, but five letters? It’s like rejection times five.”
The two girls decide to investigate, and ask for Henderson’s help to discover if Benny is actually Louisa’s secret admirer.
In spite of the serious underlying problems, there is plenty of humor, plenty of middle-grader-realism, and plenty of heart. And best of all, the book deals with a tough subject that doesn’t get magically fixed. Rather, it shows, as Louisa observes, that “some people in peril don’t get saved… and some people do…”
Evaluation: I can’t recommend this author highly enough. I love the dialogue (a bit of which is “blah blah blah” and “whatever” as it should be, for 13-year-olds!) and I love the characters. They are all imperfect, but most of them are trying hard to do the right thing, and you can’t help but love them, especially Grandma, Grandpa, Henderson and Reni. Okay, especially Henderson.
If you have a tween going through a hard time, this is a great book about dealing with hurt, anger, and loss. Even though nothing can be the way it was before, it ends in an upbeat, positive way.
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., 2012