Kody Keplinger, one of my absolute favorite authors came out with her Middle Grade Debut this year, and I've finally gotten the chance to read it, after I was able to pick it up last Monday at Maggie Stiefvater Signing!
Nola Sutton has been best friends and neighbors with the Swift boys for practically her whole life. There’s the youngest, Kevin, who never stops talking; the oldest, Brian, who’s always kind and calm; and then there’s Canaan, the ringleader and Nola’s best-best friend. Nola can’t imagine her life without the Swift boys — they’ll always be like this, always be friends.
But then everything changes overnight.
When the Swifts’ daddy leaves without even saying good-bye, it completely destroys the boys, and all Nola can do is watch. Kevin stops talking and Brian is never around. Even Canaan is drifting away from Nola — hanging out with the neighborhood bullies instead of her.
Nola just wants things to go back to the way they were — the way they’ve always been. She tries to pull the boys back to her, only the harder she pulls, the further away they seem. But it’s not just the Swifts whose family is changing, so is Nola’s, and she needs her best friends now more than ever. Can Nola and the Swift boys survive this summer with their friendships intact, or has everything fallen apart for good?
Nola’s struggle to save her friends, her unwavering hope, and her belief in the power of friendship make Kody Keplinger’s middle-grade debut a poignant story of loss and redemption.
This is Kody's first middle-grade book, before she's written strictly for more mature Young Adults, so this was a pleasant surprise!
Nola is a great character. A typical innocent twelve year old (which is surprisingly hard to find now-a-days, innocent I mean.) She has her mind set on what her future looks like, living next door to the Swift boys for the rest of her childhood, and eventually marrying Canaan, who is her age, and then having the other two boys live on either side of her when they get their own place to live.
That's just always what she kind of assumed would happen.
Except then everything changes.
The Swift's boy's dad leaves the family, with absolutely no goodbye, and no one knows if he is coming back or not.
Now Brian, the oldest, has way too many responsibilities for a 13 year old, Canaan has ditched Nola and run off with the bad boys of the neighborhood, and Kevin has stopped talking, even though he used to be the talkative one!
While none of the boys really talk to her anymore, especially the one that really matters, her "best-best-friend" Canaan, she has her own things to deal with that summer, and no one is there to talk to, about it.
This book takes over one summer that changes everything that Nola knows in her life.
I found that to be really great, because while it's sad to almost lose your childhood with so many changes, it helped Nola discover a lot about herself.
There was so much cuteness in this book! The characters, the dialogue (they used words like "Ain't"), and the story line. The storyline is overall a very serious one, dealing with a different kind of loss, that many people don't have to luckily ever deal with, but some do of course.
I would recommend it to 12 and up kids, only because it deals with some hard issues, that may be a bit much for anyone younger. to understand. Kody has definitely proven herself to be able to write beyond the mature young adult category, which is great, and proves even further more what a fabulous writer she is! :)
Hope everyone is having a good week! If you get a chance and are interested, I'm holding a giveaway right now, for a limited edition book jacket of Maggie Stiefvater's latest novel "Sinner"! You can enter that using THIS LINK!
The Romance Bookie :)