Vance, Alexander. The Heartbreak Messenger.
23 July 2013, Feiwel & Friends
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Quentin's pretty content to hang out with his best friends Rob and Abby, eat dinner with his mom at the repair shop where she works, and just get by, but when Rob's brother offers him $20 to tell his girlfriend they're through, Quentin thinks it's not a bad idea. It's an easy $20, and the girl gives him great advice (page 23): "Someday when you break up with a girl of your own, you're going to want to use flower and chocolates. Flowers at least say 'Thanks for the memories.' And chocolate, well, you don't want to leave a girl completely alone." This gives Quentin an idea for a deluxe break up package, and when he finds out that his single mother is having trouble paying the rent, he is glad that he has high school boys looking him up so that he can break the news to their girlfriends. Some of these breakups go better than other-- getting punched in the face by one soccer playing girl isn't fun, but at least he didn't have to give her the chocolates! It's good to have something to distract himself with since Abby is going out with an 8th grader, Justin, whom she has met through her interest in art. Quentin tells himself that he just misses her, but has a feeling that he might be a little jealous. He gets more breakups to deliver, including one boy who wants a package deal to break up with three, and one girl who wants him to deliver a dead rat to her ex-boyfriend. These give him pause, but when Justin hires him to break up with Abby for him, Quentin has to decide what the best thing is to do.
Strengths: Wow! Exactly the sort of book I am asking for all the time. It's funny, it includes romance, and it even includes dead rats, dog poop and a motorcycle/bicycle chase! Awesome! And I even cried a bit at the end. Excellent message about middle school romances which is not heavy handed. Fantastic cover, too. It's a bit early, but this may be my nomination for the Cybils Award in the fall.
Weaknesses: I usually don't like books where students set up improbable businesses, but this was so good that I didn't care. Oh, my daughter reminded me that there was an episode of The Middle where the one boy had a similar business. Again, don't care!
I love the trailer for this, too!
Warning: Violence to candy is involved!
Oh, and congratulations to Brenda over at Prose and Kahn for winning a copy of Shusterman's Ship Out of Luck! I'll be e mailing.