Doug Swieteck is less than thrilled about having to move to “boring Marysville”. Far from his familiar New York, moving to Marysville presents a whole slew of new problems for him, while not erasing any of his old problems. After all, his family is moving with him. Over the course of the next year Doug reluctantly comes to make friends with the spunky Lil Spicer, and to become a part of the community, much to his own surprise.
This was a wonderfully written book. Doug’s voice was spot on, and I really felt like we were in the mind of a defensive eighth grader. The way that he chooses to reveal or hide information from the reader was masterfully done. Even at the end, there are still several aspects of family dynamics that remain implied rather than directly stated. We can understand Doug and his family as much as by what’s left unsaid as by what is revealed explicitly.
That being said, the plot of the book occasionally disappointed me. This is the sort of book that should be relishing the small details of life in Marysville: getting a job, learning to draw, developing a relationship with the people in town. Therefore the plot elements that stray from this – such as the Broadway incidents or the two sudden out-of-nowhere medical emergencies – really jarred me out of the world of the book, and interrupted my pleasure in the reading. This would easily be the best book I’ve read all year if it were not for the uneven feeling that the extremes of the plotting introduce. Instead, it “merely” makes my “extremely good” list.