Eighth grade, with all of its glories and anxieties, is full of plenty of drama. Tracing the arc of three relationships, Gerhardt plumbs the terrain of middle school romance, when simply being able to claim a boy/girlfriend was the whole point. There’s plenty of humor here (mostly provided by the incredibly stuffy Duke), but much of it is bittersweet, as we get treated to the fantastic (and realistic) ways that boys and girls miss each other’s social cues at this age (the contrasting accounts of their dates are particularly striking).
This isn’t a terribly complicated book, but I appreciated its honesty and respect for its subjects. And, in my continuous search for books that treat both girls and boys with respect, I felt Gerhardt nailed it – avoiding a lot of the stereotypes, but not shying away from what is going on in adolescent minds. These kids are intelligent and articulate but also achingly young and immature, with plenty of room to grow, but off to a good start. And reading this story really brought back plenty of memories (admittedly not ones that were easy to revisit!).