Sunday, May 02, 2021

I Speak Boy

Brody, Jessica. I Speak Boy
May 4th 2021 by Delacorte Press
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Emerie Woods think she has her best friend Harper all figured out. In her capacity as "Love Coordinator", she has come up with an elaborate plan to fix up Harper with her crush, Elliot at the school dance. When she puts the plan in place, however, it backfires in a spectacular way, and she ends up in a decorative pool. Her fancy phone goes dark, and she panics, since she promised her mother that she would make the phone last five years. The next morning, the rice in which she placed the phone has miraculously restored it, and there is an odd app. Emerie had been using an app called "iSpeak" to help her talk to a French pen pal, but now there is one labeled "iSpeak Boy". Sure enough, it magically translates the thoughts of all of the boys around her. It's amazing how concerned they are about their hair, their height, what others think of them, and bras! While this is fascinating, Emerie has a problem. Harper is mad at her because of what happened with Elliot. Emerie tries to make amends, but keeps getting distracted by other things in her life. Her computer teacher, Mr. Weston, seems to think her MOM is cute, her twin brothers are still using weird twin speech that drives her and her mother up a wall, all of the other girls want to know what boys are thinking about them, and her former friend and boy-next-door Grant is the only boy whose thoughts are not translated by her phone. Emerie is still trying to use her love coordinator talents to make things right with Harper, but is that really what the problem is? As she starts to realize that knowing what boys really think isn't all that helpful, will Emerie realize that she has some work to do on herself?
Strengths: Brody has a growing body of really solid works of magical realism. Better You Than Me,(2018), Addie Bell's Shortcut to Growing Up (2017) and In Some Other Life (2017) are all fun, changing places romps. This has a great use of technology, not quite akin to Mlynowski's 2010 Gimme a Call (best use of phone EVER!), but definitely fun. Who hasn't wanted to know what people are really thinking? Emerie's experiences at home, at school, and with her friends are filled with a delicious blend of drama and self-realization. This is one of those restful, fun books that I would have saved up my dimes to buy from the school book fair and reread with alarming frequency.
Weaknesses: Is the boy-next-door trope over used, or am I just bitter that there were no other teens in my neighborhood growing up, so my dreams were just dashed?
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, and this will be hugely popular with fans of Nelson's Wish Novels. 
Ms. Yingling


  1. Is it just me, or is this a subtle retelling of Jane Austen's Emma??

    1. Yep! I didn't realize it until after I wrote the review. This from the publisher: "A phone-obsessed twelve-year-old girl, frustrated by the cryptic boys in her life, discovers a magic app that can read boys' thoughts in this modern-day retelling of Emma by Jane Austen."