Sunday, January 01, 2017

Crushing It

Levy, Joanne. Crushing It.
January 10th 2017 by Aladdin/MIX
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Kat has a cousin and best friend, Olivia, who has gotten tall and pretty in middle school. In comparison, Kat feels like a "warthog" with her glasses and braces, so when Olivia decides she "like likes" Kat's long time friend and neighbor, Tyler, Kat agrees to help fix the two up. This is difficult, since Olivia doesn't care about any of Tyler's interests (books, video games)-- she just thinks he's cute. Kat tries to tell Olivia all of Tyler's favorites, throws the two together whenever she can, and eventually makes some progress. When the two hang out, though, Kate has to hover in the wings and give Olivia input as to what to say. In the end, this blows up in her face and Tyler becomes angry at her. Is he just angry about Olivia, or is he angry because he secretly feels the same way about Kat as she feels about him. 
Strengths: This really channeled all the best of Ellen Conford and Paula Danziger's tween novels of the 1970s but updated it and put some nice modern twists on middle school romance. The essential message is that you should be yourself and find friends to hang out with that share your interests, and that you shouldn't have to change. I loved that the big takeaway was that Tyler was offended that Kat would think Olivia's looks and popularity mattered to him. 
Weaknesses: Vaguely bothered by Kat calling herself a warthog and by Olivia feeling she needed to change to attract Tyler. However, it is absolutely true to life-- I'm bothered more that there are real students that feel this way. Writing a book that didn't show this wouldn't be realistic.
What I really think: It's hard to get a perfect balance on message versus entertainment, but this is a really great try. The 7th grade me would have saved up my babysitting money in order to buy a copy of this for myself!

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