Member Reviews

5 stars

This is a fantastic read that - among many other highlights - fills a much-needed niche: middle grade boys grappling with their first romances, how to treat romantic partners, and how to understand their bodies. It's an absolute must read.

Young Elio, the extraordinarily likeable m.c. (even in his most middle grade moments), has his first girlfriend and a whole lot of related complications. In addition to struggling with his feelings and his body, he's also trying to learn about his girlfriend's needs and body, consent, toxic masculinity, and his relationship to other boys and men in his community. Salazar, with a wave of near magic, makes all of this come together in a remarkably readable, engaging, moving, and lesson-packed verse novel, all while never giving even the slightest hint of overly didactic writing.

I can't say enough how much I enjoyed this read but also what a useful book I know it will be for readers of all ages. Additionally, Salazar begins with a note remarking on how this population and topic are missing almost altogether in middle grade, and I am so glad that we now have a worthy read to fill this role.

I will not only be recommending this one highly to students but will also be taking it under serious consideration to teach in future courses. Don't miss it.

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Excellent novel-in-verse about first love, betrayal, puberty, and masculinity. Elio falls in love with Camelia and feels betrayed when she starts hanging out with Chava. Dad is taking Elio to a sons’ and dad’s circle where they talk about man stuff. Elio is experiencing the normal hormones and is told you will learn about your emotions and desires. When Elio has an unexpected heart episode, he’s told to stay home until surgery. When Elio finds out something about Chava and Camelia he challenges Chava to a fight. What happens next?

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A beautifully written novel-in-verse that follows 8th grader Elio through his first love and heartbreak. He does not deal with it well, including lashing out at his girlfriend with troubling language, and must find his way back to his kind and caring self to do better and ask for forgiveness. The voice is spot on for a 13yo protagonist and transitions between laugh-out-loud funny, cringe-worthy, and heartbreaking verse. I hope young readers will be able to sit with Elio's journey and consider their own feelings about masculinity and what it means to be an ally. I was lucky enough to read an advanced reader copy of this story and this line from Aida Salazar's "Dear Reader" letter has really stuck with me: "As a feminist and the mother of a boy, I want to offer boys examples of how they can find strength through vulnerability and sensitivity." A brilliant work of art. Highly recommend.

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This book was great! I loved seeing how the main character learned from the mistakes he made, it had such a good message! I also thought it was really nice to see how the main characters made up, that was great!

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