Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Positively! Too Good To Be True by Laurie Friedman

On the way home from dance practice, Emily invited me to come over again tomorrow. "We can practice a little and then hang out and go see a movie or something," she said.

Then Emily linked her arm through mine. "I love that we've gotten to be such good friends. Anything you ever want to tell me you can, like about Matt or whatever." was about to open my mouth and remind her that I have a boyfriend so I didn't need to tell her anything about Matt, but Emily looked at me like she got it without me having to say a word. "I know you have a boyfriend, but Matt called you California and he's supercute. That must be tough!"

"I'm glad we're friends," I said. And I am. There's stuff I can tell Emily that I could never tell Brynn.

Goodbye, too-good-to-be-true life!

After an almost catastrophic summer, April thinks she's got it made in the shade. She has the perfect boyfriend, Billy, one she can talk to for hours every night--if one of her little sisters doesn't tattle. She's back with her best friend Brynn, and she and Brynn and Billy have the same lunch period together.

Suddenly Brynn decides that they should go out for the high school dance team. Amazingly, April makes the team, but Brynn doesn't. Naturally, she's disappointed and a little jealous, and it seems to April as if Brynn is concentrating on monopolizing Billy at lunch, and because she has dance practice every day after school, April can't hang out with Brynn and Billy to keep her eye on whatever is going on. Things just feel wrong.

Then, there's the admittedly "supercute" Matt Parker, her new nextdoor neighbor, who seems to appear with his dog every evening when April has to walk Gilligan. Matt is friendly and funny, but April can't seem to think of anything normal to say. But that doesn't seem to bother him.

I was lying in the backyard in my bikini, trying to get tan for dance, and squeezing lemons on my hair, which is supposed to give you blond highlights. Then suddenly Matt Parker walked into my backyard and sat down on my towel next to me.

"I could smell the lemons from next door. We had a lemon tree back in California. I love the smell of lemons. It reminds me of home." Then, before I could do anything, he leaned toward me.

"My new name for you is California." He smiled the cutest smile ever.

Despite Brynn's offhand remark that Emily is not trustworthy, April finds herself inexplicably telling her about Matt's unexpected kiss. And before she can grasp what is happening, April's beautiful beginning to eighth grade goes really bad. Brynn was right. Emily tells everyone on the dance team April's confidence, and it seems her perfect life has vanished. Brynn won't speak to her, and when he hears the gossip, Billy abruptly breaks up with her. The other dancers think she's a kiss-and-tell two-timer and only tolerate her presence at rehearsal for the sake of the team's upcoming Homecoming and Fall Festival shows.

"Can a girl make a mistake without her life falling apart?

Apparently not."

Laurie Friedman's second installment in her new series, Too Good to Be True (Mostly Miserable Life of April Sinclair) (Darby Creek Publishing, 2014), finds her heroine in the middle of a middle school romantic triangle or foursome, or whatever it is, in this latest mess in The Mostly Miserable Life of April Sinclair. Negotiating the pitfalls of early adolescent friendship and romance doesn't come easy to everyone, and April concludes that it certainly doesn't come easy for her. Having a positive attitude is not working for her, and April has to try to put things back together again. Friedman uses the journal technique in her portrayal of April's ups and downs of in a fairly lighthearted narrative, as her character finds her way out of the tangled relationships of early teenhood, and the author does it with humor and insight that readers will appreciate, perhaps wishing that Friedman would write their scripts! As Kirkus concludes, "Readers will empathize as April displays spunk and resilience in addressing her mistakes and remaining true to herself."

Laurie Friedman is the author of the previous April Sinclair novel, Can You Say Catastrophe? (Mostly Miserable Life of April Sinclair), her Mallory McDonald beginning chapter girl sleuth series, and her popular picture books Love, Ruby Valentine and Ruby Valentine Saves the Day.

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