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326 pages, Hardcover
First published October 29, 2019
I have read my way through 315 books to bring you my Top 10 Books of the Year (video) .
Rex McClendon and Leif Nelson are best friends (along with Alicia Boykins) in their small town of Bleak Creek.
"I'm not used to people thinking I'm a bad kid. It's kind of exhilarating."
"...I feel like I'm being judged. And punished with tomatoes."
"They're taking her to the Whitewood School," Leif said.Whitewood, the local reform school, is praised by any and all adults living in Bleak Creek...
She was no Princess Peach, trapped in a castle hoping that two plumbers were coming to save her.She will not let this place break her. She will not fall. She will not -
For the first time since arriving at the Whitewood School, it hit her: She could die here.I have a confession.
...the red-brick First Baptist Church with its towering steeple, less than fifty yards from the light brown brick Second Baptist Church with its slightly taller steeple....And Rex's scootering leg! Oh my gosh. I could not handle that.
Rex barreled down the blacktop...his scooter leg bouncing off the pavement, propelling him at a fraction of the speed of a bicycle."In addition, there were so many side characters with quirky personalities scattered throughout the book that truly made it memorable.
"Can you just...Can you just speed up a little? Try and lose 'em?"A lot of the humor relied on slow builds and reoccurring bits, so it was a bit hard to find the perfect quote to sum it up, but honestly, that made them all the more enjoyable (though, for the record, we definitely needed more mortician-dad and pig-roasting envy!)
"For you, Neenie? Anything." GamGam pressed down on the gas, and Janine's head was thrust back...
When I talked with the authors about their choice of names (Rex and Leif, opposed to Rhett and Link), they admitted that the first few drafts really did use their real names but eventually it felt too self-indulgent (and a bit awkward).
As a semi-professional reviewer and fully professional reader, I definitely appreciated that choice. If they had gone full Rhett-and-Link in these pages, that would take away some of the stand-alone qualities of the book.
Rex also had a crush on Alicia.But overall, by creating that distance between themselves and their characters allowed for them to take the event, fictionalize it and then run with it.
As of a day ago.
This was a painfully unfair turn of events.
An absolutely unbelievably huge thanks to the authors (Rhett McLaughlin & Link Neal), Jenna Purdy, Brian Flanagan and the publishers at Crown for sending me a free ARC in exchange for an honest review - and for allowing me to talk to Rhett and Link about their latest literary adventure!