Friday, October 31, 2014

The Battle of Darcy Lane, by Tara Altebrando

Julia's plans for the summer get thrown askew when a new girl named Alyssa moves to her street.  Alyssa isn't very nice and seems to immediately set her sights on stealing away Julia's best friend Taylor.  Amidst the battle over Taylor lies a number of other major events:  a competition between Julie and Alyssa, a friendship with the boy next door that may be growing into something more, new friends at band camp, some sneak watching of a forbidden TV show, and the arrival of the cicadas.

Altebrando hits a number of key tween themes in a light, realistic, and respectful manner.  This isn't a story of big events.  In her own words, it's a "quiet" book.  Kids are kids, grownups are grownups.  Everyone is a bit flawed and acceptably happy.  And truth be told, Julia isn't a terribly nice girl (being almost as mean to girls she doesn't like as Alyssa is to her), but she recognizes it and the reader can sympathize with her flaws.  It all rolls up into a lovely honest story of the struggle to maintain friendships in the turmoil of pre-adolescence.  I'm really not sure where those bugs fit in though!

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