Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Swift Boys and Me by Kody Keplinger

The Swift Boys and Me by Kody Keplinger. 265 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc. May, 2014. 9780545562003. (Review from finished copy courtesy of publisher)

Twelve-year-old Nola Sutton lives with her mom in one side of a duplex and the Swift boys live with their parents on the other. Nola is good friends with all of them but best friends with Canaan. That is, until she sees Mr. Swift drive off one evening and doesn't return. Then, the boys, but especially Canaan, distance themselves from a bewildered Nola. She had the summer all planned out. She and Canaan were going to work odd jobs around the neighborhood and save up to go to the circus in August.

Told from Nola's POV with flashbacks filling in the depth of the friendship between her and the boys, this is a gentle coming of age story filled with betrayal, bewilderment and resilience. Nola is loved (I especially loved her relationship with her mom and Richard) and lives in a small community where folks tend to one another. There are a few false notes though as Nola investigates where Mr. Swift might have taken off to and the rather unsatisfying subplot involving her cranky maternal grandmother. The timeline also seemed a bit rushed. Still, the resolution, with the friendship that is cracked and will never be the same resonates.

I also take the cover to task, which, while adorable does not really portray the story accurately. I can forgive the fence. It's metaphorical. What bugs me is the fact that Nola admits to being on the chubby side and is bullied and called fat by a couple of thugs, yet the girl on the cover is no where near chubby and the girl on the back, who doesn't even look like the same girl, looks even skinnier (though, it could be the angle).

Still, I just know who I'm giving this book first and I'm sure there'll be a line after her. 

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