Preller, James. Before You Go.
17 July 2012
Jude is enjoying his summer as much as he can, hanging out with his geeky friend Corey who is obsessed with zombies and working in food service on the beach, wearing a dorky paper hat and an orange and black uniform. He makes another friend in coworker Roberto, who encourages him to get to know the attractive Becka, one of the cashiers. Being at work and hanging out with friends gives Jude the chance to get away from his health nut father (who, embarrassingly, runs in spandex shorts) and his depressed mother who has never gotten over the death of his four year old sister, who drowned years ago in the family pool while Jude was supposed to be watching her. Becka is interested in Jude, and they spend a lot of time hanging around together, but when another tragedy happens, Jude has a lot of trouble dealing with not only the recent events, but the aftermath of years of supressing his sister's death as well.
Strengths: This was an effective and engaging read. The depiction of working food service on the beach was highly entertaining, and the romance was realistic. The fact that Jude has to deal with the deaths of two people close to him is a bit unusual, but does happen.
Weaknesses: While mostly appropriate for middle school, the topics and self searching in this book make it more suitable for high school students. I'll throw it at Surly Teen Boy and see what he thinks, since it strikes me as a bit like David Lubar's Dunk.