by Wendelin Van Draanen
*Keep in mind that this book came out in 2001, AND the word’s inclusion in the book is to point out it is offensive.
“To by held above the earth and be brushed by the wind,” she said,”it’s like your heart has been kissed by beauty.”
Similar to: Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt and Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (no fantastical elements in this one, but same kind of adorableness!)
So this book is adorable. It’s sweet, it’s poignant, it’s got chickens!
The story of even one moment changes all based on who’s doing the telling.
The boy on the left? That’s Bryce. The girl on the right? That’s Juli. And the story is told in alternating perspectives. Depending on who you ask, this is either the first time they held hands, or the first time Bryce realized just how obnoxious Juli could be.
Guess which side is which?
As the story progresses you learn that while Juli has been obsessed with Bryce since…right about this moment here, Bryce has done everything he could do avoid her. It’s now several years later and both are in the 8th grade. And while Juli is full of passion and wonder and some amazing chicken-hatching skills, Bryce is…well…kind of turning into his dad. Which he hasn’t quite realized yet may not be the best thing in the world.
Everyone around Juli seems intent on turning her interest away from Bryce. But they just don’t understand. He has the most beautiful, bluest eyes you’ve ever seen.
Yes, thank you, Mr. Jones. There is also his hair (which Juli likes to smell. Yeah, it’s that kind of a crush…) But other people aren’t so convinced:
“Get beyond his eyes and his smile and the sheen of his hair — Look at what’s really there.”
Juli herself just does not seem to get it. It’s that age when it takes you far too long to realize that your adoration of someone doesn’t make them worth it.
Meanwhile Bryce is having to learn that while he thinks he’s got life more or less figured out, he might not be the person he thought he was.
In case you haven’t figured it out there is a movie they made based on the book and it’s fairly accurate to the book and totally adorable (have I said that yet?) and there’s a big long thing going on with those eggs right there, but I DO NOT want to spoil it for you because it’s actually a major plot point! (Hence the chick on the cover of the book.)
So, if you want a safe, lovely read about first crushes and figuring out how you see the world, then you should totally pick up this book. It’s short (only 212 pages) and a perfect summer read (in fact, it’s the first book I’m doing with my church girls for our summer reading club!) Really, really, this book is great and you need to read it if you haven’t yet!
And then go rent the movie.
For more ideas for great Middle Grade reads, check these out!