I was really conflicted on whether I would like this. Yet the more I read, the more I wanted to stay in the world of Nick and Coby and the cast of characters at their school. Nick faces several conflicts include his first crush, his parents separating, bullies, and an illness. Along the way he finds that words, books, and his family are the tools he needs to navigate the chaos of life.
Part of what I didn’t like in this book is how very male-centered it is. The crush, April, is seen completely through his eyes and she’s a pretty flat character. Then again, 8th and 9th grade boys are pretty self-absorbed trying to navigate puberty and the transition to high school. It also comes together too neatly in the end, which, for all of the conflicts Nick faced, seems unrealistic.
Considering I was previewing this book to teach to my ninth-grade class, I’m not sure this is the book that will to teach to an entire class. I did appreciate the influence of Nick’s English teacher and the librarian who help him see that books aren’t just things to annoy you, but they are worlds to escape in and full of knowledge that we can use in life.