By: Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 2011
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: May 2011
Nick Brandt is your normal, everyday teenager. The only thing that’s ‘odd’ about this particular high school junior living in New York City, is the fact that he’s lucky. He is the owner of two parents who are truly in love and love him; his home is a happy one; and, he has a best friend who’s actually a good, honest friend who has been a part of his life since they were little boys. School isn’t so bad, either. Nick has good grades and doesn’t really worry much about his love life. But the one thing that he has been missing is the strength and bravery to ask out Eden Reiss.
Eden is also a normal, nice teenager girl, and extremely intelligent. She, unfortunately, doesn’t have all the positives in her life that Nick enjoys, Although she has a non-violent home - with no drugs or hideous beings to negatively effect her life - Eden’s parents are getting ready to divorce. And Eden has a tendency to be a little jealous of people like Nick Brandt whose parents actually sat at their school, holding hands, on parent’s day. Soon, however, Nick and Eden become a couple…and just in time. Why? Because like many people who have taken a “happy, normal” life for granted, Nick doesn’t know what hits him when there is actual adversity thrown into the mix.
Nick’s Dad reveals a secret. He, a long time ago, fathered a son with his first girlfriend and they ended up giving the boy up for adoption. It was a point in Nick’s father’s life where he wasn’t able to raise a son. Now, phone calls are coming into the house from a young man named Sam…who turns out to be Nick’s half-sibling.
Nick gets more than angry when he learns that his father kept such a large secret from him all these years; he feels as if his own opinion in his family is no longer warranted. And even though his mother has accepted the fact that his father wants to “meet” the boy he gave up long ago - Nick is not accepting of it. It feels like he has sibling rivalry all of a sudden for a man he’s never even met.
Nick does a great deal of talking with his beloved girlfriend, Eden about the situation. He needs someone to understand what he’s going through, and Eden tries her absolute best to put up with Nick’s infantile behavior. When Nick and Sam come face to face, a new relationship is born, and the in-depth emotions run high. Can Nick find a way to forgive his father and accept the ‘newest’ member of his family? Can he struggle through his emotions and not blow his relationship with the girl of his dreams?
Although the author does a lovely job of answering those questions, the actual ‘plot’ reminded this writer of an amazing woman who took on the hardest teenage subjects and offered upset, confused, and frightened teens a way to deal with every emotional problem they could have. The famed author, Judy Blume, is still remembered as the absolute “best” voice for speaking about the world of teenage difficulties. And, although, Ms. Sheinmel is a “new” voice in YA fiction trying to touch on various subjects that affect the teenage mind, Ms. Blume still remains the master of that particular ‘craft.’
Quill Says: A heartfelt story about the difficult journey from teenager to adult, with some well-taught lessons for YA readers.