Dinnison, Kris. You Me Him
July 7th 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
ARC from Baker and Taylor
Maggie and Nash are the best of friends, and glad to have each other. Nash's mother is an alcoholic and frequently takes all of his attention, while Maggie's mother is well meaning but really pushy about Maggie's weight. When a new and charistmatic boy, Tom, comes to town and wants to hang with their misfit group (which includes Cece, Maggie's other best friend), Nash calls dibs on him as a romantic prospect. Maggie is okay with that, and fills her time with working at a used record store and baking cookies to give away. As time goes on, however, Maggie begins to realize that Tom is not attracted to Nash, but may very well be attracted to her. She feels bad that her friend will once again be thwarted in his crush, but is also pleased that Tom likes her. Adding to the drama is Kayla, who also likes Tom, but is one of the popular girls. She also used to be good friends with Maggie before she annihilated her reputation in middle school. Kayla claims to want to be friends again because the popular people are "boring", but Maggie is still wary. When things go wrong with Nash over Tom, all the cookies in the world won't make Maggie feel better.
Strengths: Very good job at portrayed a high school same sex crush, and Tom is very understanding and not judgemental or weirded out by Nash. There's also not a whole lot of drinking or talk of sex, which is highly unusual in a book with LGBTQ characters for some reason. I really liked the journey that the main characters were on, especially the descriptions of Maggie and her mother's tension over weight. A must purchase for high school and public libraries. My choice for Stonewall winner this year.
Weaknesses: Still a bit much for high school, with several f-bombs and a general slow, introspective tone. I will give my ARC to one of my 8th grade girls who is the only student in 13 years to ask for books with LGBTQ characters. I know, I know-- students don't ASK for this kind of books, but more often than not I recommend books to students based on other qualities of the characters, only to have them bring back One Man Guy having only read three chapters. Argh. Hard to balance.
What I really think: Still on the look out for middle grade gender role diversity.