Friday, October 11, 2019

Guy Friday- Maybe He Just Likes You

Yes, I know that there are no "boy" books or "girl" books, but I would wager that few of the boys in my library would pick this up on their own. This is too bad, because they all would benefit from reading a "window" into another experience. You know this is going to be my top pick for Boys Read Pink month, but I'm also going to suggest it to many, many boys before then.

Dee, Barbara. Maybe He Just Likes You
October 1st 2019 by Aladdin
E ARC provided by Edelweiss

Mila is anxious about starting middle school, especially since things are tough at home. Her mother seems to be having a tough time at work, although she's not talking about it, and also isn't getting a lot of cooperation with child support from Mila and her younger sister's dad. Mila has grown a bit, and her clothes are too tight, but she doesn't want to say anything, relying instead on a favorite fuzzy green sweater that is loose enough to also cover her tight pants. This sweater gains some unwanted attention from a group of boys, who want Mila to hug them or brush up against her sleeve. It's just weird, and she doesn't like it, and lets the boys know. But it still continues. Making it even more difficult is the fact that one of the boys is one whom her friend Zara likes. Her friend Omi isn't quite sure what to do, but her friend Max, who was bullied during the last school year by other boys calling him gay, presses Mila to tell an adult about the behavior. Mila does, but she has to talk to a male school counselor, and isn't comfortable giving details. The behavior is such that it flies under the teachers' radars, and it's Mila's slightly louder reactions that get the negative attention, which doesn't make her feel any better. The two things that are pleasant in her life are band class and a karate class that she is taking at a nearby gym while her mother has a free two week pass. Things become worse at home when her mother quits her job, so Mila doesn't want to bother her mother. Finally, one of the boys makes a comment right before the middle school band takes the stage for the concert, and Mila can no longer be silent. There are consequences, but also understanding teachers who want to make sure that the boys' behavior stops for good.
Strengths: This was well done. It's a difficult topic, but it's the only book I've seen (other than the YA Moxie) that deals with sexual harassment and about the only book that portrays realistic bullying. Mila's confusion as to whether or not the boys were really doing anything was perfect, and all middle schoolers will relate to the discomfort over clothing and changing bodies. The situation at home is also handled well; parents occasionally quit jobs, and it's very concerning for middle school students. I especially liked that the boys were finally dealt with in a constructive way that made them understand the effects their behavior had on Mila, and that it wasn't just a joke. Max is also a good character, and he is commendable for encouraging Mila to talk to adults, the way she encouraged him. It's also nice to see a gay middle school character who isn't in the middle of a crisis. All in all, a well-crafted, important tale that is interesting to read as well as informative.
Weaknesses: I wish that the teachers (especially the aide) had been a bit more approachable, or that Mila had had one teacher with whom she felt safe. We've made a big push in our school to encourage our students to have a "trusted adult" in the building for instances such as Mila's and other types of problems.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing and recommending.

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