Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Short History of the Girl Next Door, by Jared Reck

Matt and Tabby have been neighbors and inseparable friends since childhood.  Tabby has basically lived over at Matt's house and been like a member of the family.  Somewhere along the line, Matt has fallen in love with Tabby (although he's never had the guts to admit it to her).  And so he watches hopelessly as she has fallen in love with a star player on the basketball team.  The jealousy he experiences drives him crazy and threatens to tear their friendship apart, until tragic events overtake their relationship altogether.

I'm never a fan of the random plot twist and this one delivers quite a punch half way through the book.  Perhaps, the love triangle is an overdone story, but Reck really does a nice job with it.  The strength of Reck's storytelling is Matt, who he's fleshed out with authentic sensitivities and anxieties (transcending the obligatory bro-nonsense that permeates depictions of adolescence masculinity).  So, why not let the story be about what it started being about:  boy learns to simply love his friend and be friends with his love?  The plot twist seemed more an invention for Reck to extend the story, as if he had run out of things to say and wanted a higher page count.  And it ruined a good story.

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