Wednesday, December 20, 2023

My Week With Him

Goffney, Joya. My Week With Him 
July 11, 2023 by HarperTeen 
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Nikki lives in Texas in somewhat difficult circumstances. She lives with her mother and younger sister in a trailer after her mother divorced her step father, who remains supportive of both Nikki and Vae. Her mother is quick to judgement, so when she catches Nikki in the driveway dressed for a party, she assumes that the young man who dropped Vae off was with Nikki, and kicks Nikki out of the house. Nikki was planning on spending her spring break driving to California for an audition with a promising musical group, and this cements her goal to get out of her small Texas town. The only problem is her long time friend Mal, on whom she has had a longstanding crush. He's asked someone else to Prom, but Nikki wants to at least show him her sexier side and maybe make him jealous. After they talk at the party, Mal breaks up with his girlfriend, and when he finds out that Nikki's mother has kicked her out, suggests that Nikki spend the week with him before going to California, to see where their relationship goes. This is all a bit up in the air, but Mal (whose parents are well to do) books a trip to California with his mother's help, and the two head off to spend some relaxing time over spring break. When Nikki gets the message that her sister Vae is missing, the break becomes anything but relaxing. She and Mal head back, and meet up with Darryl, her step dad, as well as her mother, to look for Vae. Nikki always lives in hope that her mother will become more reasonable, but is always disappointed. It turns out that Mal understands this. Nikki has been trying to hide this part of her life from him, but it turns out that Mal was in foster care before his parents adopted him, so he knows the pain of dealing with a mercurial parent. Nikki figures out where Vae must be, which involves a road trip to Dallas. The audition still looms over her, but as she and Mal become closer, Nikki has to decide if she wants to stay in Texas to be near Mal, or finally make the break and go to California. Is there any way she can do both? 

This is definitely a young adult book, with some more adult vocabulary, as well as discussion of generational trauma, but is more in line with books like Renee Watson, Paula Chase, or Kasie West in the level of other late adolescent behaviors. While I found it hard to believe that high school seniors would be allowed to drive to different states alone and stay in hotels, it is certainly a very appealing thought to teens!

Nikki and Mal's relationship is front and center in this book, but keeps getting pushed to the side by issues like Nikki's mother's anger and Vae's disappearance. It was nice to see that Mal's parents were supportive and understanding, Darryl is involved in Nikki's life even though he doesn't have to be, and we do get some insight into the mother's actions when we find out the history with her mother, Bobbie, and the difficult relationship she had with her husband. 

Young readers will enjoy the trajectory of Nikki's singing career. Mal gets her several local opportunities for gigs, and these go well, so it's not a surprise that she has been approached by the group in California to try out. 

My Week With Him is a fun but realistic look at all of the obstacles that teen relationships can face, and offers hope to readers who also might have dealt with trauma in the past but want to but their dreams, and their own positive relationships, front and center in their plans. 

There were too many f-bombs in this for me to include in my middle school library, so I will pass this on to the high school, where the age of the characters makes it a better fit. 

Ms. Yingling

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