Lauren and Cheesy: a Love Story

51qxunmoamlThe Bridge from Me to You, by Lisa Schroeder (2014)

Opening line: “The house smells like / apple pie thanks to the / burning candle on the mantel.”

Lauren is new to the small town of Willow. She’s recently moved in with her aunt, uncle, and three young cousins, leaving a mom and baby brother back in Portland, for reasons she’s keeping close to her chest, reasons that make her sad, anxious, and a little bit angry. Colby is Willow’s golden boy, star football player about to start his senior season accompanied by his best friend in the world, Benny. Colby’s got a secret too; despite being really good at football, and despite his father’s dreams for him to get a football scholarship, Colby feels done with football. He wants to go to college to learn to build bridges, not score touchdowns. Both Lauren and Colby are feeling trapped.

When they meet at the local Jiffy Mart over a bag of Bugles, they seem to offer each other a breath of fresh air. Colby might be Lauren’s bridge out, and Lauren might be Colby’s. Things are suddenly looking up for them both. Until Benny’s accident, that is. One night, Colby’s best friend Benny is in a motorcycle accident, landing him in a coma, and Colby in the hospital waiting room, not knowing if Benny will ever recover.

I feel like I could just keep going with plot summary, because there’s no real good place to stop. Just picture the most recent sappy Nicholas Sparks movie, and you’ve probably got a good idea. I couldn’t hardly believe that one of the main characters is Colby, because this book was cheeeeesy. I think it’ll be one that my students will easily devour though, because there’s not much more you want as a thirteen year old than a perfect romance to cure all your problems. Which is basically how this one goes. The writing is equally as cheesy as the plot, probably not helped by the fact that all of Lauren’s chapters are written in verse, which the author took advantage of in a terrible sort of way. I usually love verse novels, but found this one trying way too hard.

Eh, not great literature here, folks. But not a terrible way to spend an afternoon.

1 star

 

 

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Building friendship through lizarding-catching

  Minn and Jake, by Janet S. Wong (2003)

This week is poetry week in Children’s Lit! I was excited to see an atypical selection on the reading list, a novel written in verse. While this format has been made famous in the YA section with books like those in the Crank series by Ellen Hopkins, I haven’t seen much of this for younger readers yet. (Granted, Minn and Jake is 8 years old, so maybe I’m just unaware.)

Here is a story of two ten year olds, one girl who’s way too tall and one boy who’s way too short, both of whom are struggling to find someone to trust amidst their gossipy fifth grade class.  More than anything, Minn loves catching and observing lizards at The Screep, and while Jake just wishes he could move back to L.A. where he has friends who don’t stare at him or mock him for his height. When Minn and Jake get shoved together at the hands of their parents, the city-boy and the lizard-girl seem to be the last two people to form a friendship. But lo and behold, they find that each can teach the other something new, and maybe even save each other from loneliness.

I can imagine what this book would be like as a classic prose novel, and I don’t think it would carry as much charm and authenticity as it does in its current state. It brought me straight back to life in the fifth grade, and all the joy, fear, bonding, fascination, and isolation that accompanies it.

2 stars.