Monday, May 19, 2014

The Swift Boys and Me by Kody Keplinger

The Swift Boys and Me
by Kody Keplinger
272 pages
Middle Grade Realistic
NetGalley- Scholastic
May 2014

Book Jacket Summary
Eleven-year-old Nola Sutton has been best friends and neighbors with the Swift boys for practically her whole life. There's the youngest, Kevin, who never stops talking; the oldest, Brian, who's always kind and calm; and then there's Canaan, the ringleader and Nola's best-best friend. Together, they have a summer of fun adventures planned.

But then everything changes overnight.

When the boys' dad leaves without even saying good-bye, it completely destroys the Swift family, and all Nola can do is watch. She tries to hold on to them, but they are changing. Kevin stops talking, Canaan starts hanging out with mean boys, and Brian is never around. Nola just wants things to go back to the way they were--the way they've always been.

Is Nola strong enough to save the Swift boys from themselves, or has she lost them forever?

My Thoughts
This is the first honest to goodness novel I have read in a while and I am glad I started with it. The Swift Boys and Me was tugging on my heart strings as I read it!  It all starts when Mr. Swift leaves his family without saying goodbye and Nola notices the changes in her best friends, the Swift brothers. There is the oldest Brian who is forced to look after the younger two, the youngest Kevin who stops speaking, and Canaan who grows angrier by the minute. Nola doesn't know how to help and has to deal with the changes of her own family dynamic. She must also look outside the Swift boys for friends and finds them in the most unlikely places.
I was so worried about how Canaan was changing from the friend Nola had always known to an angry bitter young man. It reminded me of how Jake and Lily drifted apart in Jerry Spinelli's same named book. I was worried that their, Nola and Canaan, friendship could not be salvaged . That is all part of that age group though. You are discovering yourself and finding friends based on fun rather proximity. 
This is a book a lot of kids will be able to relate too. Changes happen during the middle grade years and Nola is dealing with some harsh ones. Friends can leave or seem to leave and it is a hard transition to make. Nola has her sad days and mad days just like the rest of us. I found her to be a great narrator and girl who is learning about life. I also found comfort int he ending, not everything was tied up in a neat little bow but there was hope. That is what I am looking for... not a perfect ending but one that leaves the reader satisfied and knowing that there will be a good life ahead for Nola.

Book Pairings
Three Times Lucky by Shelia Turnage 
Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli 
The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng
Close to Famous by Joan Bauer 


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