There is no information here that isn’t in the book description, but for people who like to go into books knowing nothing, I’ve put the majority of thThere is no information here that isn’t in the book description, but for people who like to go into books knowing nothing, I’ve put the majority of this review in spoiler tags, even though I care a great deal about spoiler tags when they’re warranted and I don’t really think they are here, but just in case.
I feel badly giving this book only 3 stars, and honestly maybe only 2 ½ stars. It’s a very good book. I’d say as a 10-11 year old I might have given it 4 stars. It’s just one of those middle grade books that doesn’t work for adults, or at least this adult, as much as do many middle grade books. I can recommend it to 10-13 year old boys and 10-12 year old girls. It’s one of those stories best read by kids, and that’s fine since they’re the targeted readers.
I won this paperback uncorrected proof edition book from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review. It was easy to read, with a “real” cover image and an overall paperback finished look to it.
(view spoiler)[ I was concerned about veganism being equated with eating disorders and the gleefulness with which certain family members ended up eating huge amounts of cheese and other dairy products. I don’t like the message. But since Emma seemingly was vegan for at least partly ethical reasons, there are both positives and negatives in the portrayal of veganism. The scorn about vegan food though offended and annoyed me (though I don’t like vegan meats either but why couldn’t they have had some delicious vegan meals, and been a bit more creative about what vegan foods they consumed?!) and if I was in a more persnickety mood, I could see giving this book only 1 star. If there had been an even more obvious connection made between Emma’s insistence on vegan eating and no mention of her genuine concern for animals’ welfare and rights this book would have definitely been won by the wrong person. There are so few portrayals of vegan characters in books, especially children’s books, and I am always happy to see some positive portrayals. And on a personal note I have to say that I’ve known and worked with dozens of people, teens and younger kids included, who have had various forms of ED and only 2 ever used eating vegan as part of their disorder, and each time it was not a major part. I know it happens but it’s not THAT common.
I wanted to read the book because I was interested in what was going on with the sister. The story is told from the point of view of the brother and he’s cryptic about things and out of the loop with some others. And given my interests it took half the book to get to the main part of where I wanted it to go. I do wonder if young readers aren’t familiar with bulimia and anorexia they will understand what is going on during the big “reveal” but I think most middle school kids are likely savvy about these topics, unlike when I was young and few had any knowledge of them unless they knew someone who was affected.
I did enjoy that Noah was a great artist and I really enjoyed the apparently good sibling relationship.
I wasn’t wild about how much the reader is left in the dark. It made everything seem sort of superficial, but I did appreciate the characters’ feelings seemed well rounded and shown.
For me there was way too much minutiae about the day to day lives of puberty age boys. I think kids of that age would enjoy it a LOT more than I did. For me it was only mildly interesting and it wasn’t really entertaining, though it did for the most part feel genuine.
I generally like open ended endings and it was apropos here, but I didn’t find the end of the story satisfying and I think it was because I didn’t get enough satisfaction throughout the book. I understand why there wasn’t more depth and information given but my enjoyment was diminished because of it.
I thought that maybe too many topics were covered or introduced. Sometimes it felt as though everything was in there but the kitchen sink. Included but not a comprehensive list: veganism for the animals, anorexia, bulimia, cat allergy, cats’ natural hunting instincts, a flatulent dog, and boys belching and with gas, dementia, divorce, religion, gay couples, a very progressive school, boys at puberty including first kisses and first dances and fascination with girls and the size of girls’ breasts, various foods eaten at school and at home and friends’ homes, Secret Santas, various teachers and school staff and various classes, and homework, family and friends and sibling relationships, who sits where and gets picked up when in the carpool cars, worry about the health and mental health of family members and friends. Etc. Etc. Etc.
I do think that this book will interest tween boys and girls and could very well be helpful to children who are experiencing family problems or have friends who are, especially any who have reasons to worry about their family members. (hide spoiler)]
I do want to add that I did really like Emma and I really liked Noah, and I found most of the characters likeable and, as far as they were delved into, understandable. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more