Author: Wendelin Van Draanen
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Number of Pages: 224
Advertised Age Level: Young Adult
Age and Grade of Main Character(s): 13/8th grade
Language: no profanity
Sex: none at all
Drug/Alcohol Use: adults drink wine at a party
Social Issues: first love, unrequited love, standing up to friends, lying, discovery of parental fallibility, family member with a mental disability
Suggested Movie Grade: G
Premise: Juli Baker has loved Bryce Loski from the moment his moving van pulled into his driveway at the tender age of 7. Bryce, on the other hand, finds Juli nothing but annoying. Over the course of the next six years, Juli’s devotion to Bryce grows stronger, and her outward displays of her feelings grow more obvious. Bryce does his best to avoid this unwanted attention, convinced that Juli Baker is the last girl on the planet he’d ever want to be friends with.
When the two kids enter eighth grade, however, the whole world seems to flip. As Juli gets to know aspects about Bryce that aren’t so very nice, she starts to question her true feelings for the boy with the brilliant blue eyes. And just when it seems that Juli has lost all interest in him, Bryce suddenly begins to realize that maybe Juli is pretty special after all.
Told from alternating points of view, both Juli and Bryce tell their sides of the various events in the book as well as give insight on the private workings of their respective families. Juli learns of a mentally handicapped uncle that her family supports while Bryce comes to see his father as a man who behaves in ways Bryce doesn’t necessarily agree with. Both learn that growing up is hard.
Potential Points of Concern: Juli and her father visit a mentally retarded uncle in a private mental healthcare facility.
Bryce lies to Juli in order to save face in front of his father.
Bryce tries to give Juli a kiss in public and she runs off.
Age Appropriateness: Ages 10 and up