I received a copy of this book from Authoright in exchange for my review. Mailbox by Nancy Freund was unique in that it was written in the form of short stories, or journal entries, from the main character, Sandy, during her tween years. “In the wake of the Watergate scandal, American society is in a state of bewilderment, both at home and overseas. Sandy’s friends are learning about menstruation and reading Judy Blume – some in secret, against their mothers’ warnings. The Drue family moves from New York to Small Town, USA where Sandy and her brother try to find friends, avoid bullies, and settle in. While Sandy slowly realizes that her family may never fully fit in, she finds that writing helps her to understand her own mind and ease her push-pull entry into adulthood. Her parents encourage her curiosity, her imagination, and her challenge of social conventions, but not without cost. Her New Yorker mother, an artist and intellectual, finds Bible-belt conservatism – and cows, horses, and guns – an uneasy fit. Sandy’s father grapples with financial worries as his wholesaling business battles huge discounters bringing in cheap foreign goods, destroying local, multi-generation stores. Caught in the middle of this social unrest, between chaos and calm, and the uneasy balance between childhood and adulthood, a now thirteen-year-old Sandy is ready to write her book, aiming to answer the biggest question she faces: whether there’s anyone bigger in charge…” I loved this book for a lot of reasons. Firstly, I too kept a journal when I was Sandy’s age. I identified with her stories and the way she shared them. I found myself wondering if the author had written the stories when she was an adolescent because she captures the adolescent voice so well. Another thing that I loved was discovering that the book actually takes place in Kansas City. The first KC reference was to the Nelson Gallery – now known as the Nelson-Atkins Museum. Then there were street names mentioned (Ward Parkway and Wornall) and an area of town (Brookside) that made me sure of the story’s location. As it turns out, Freund herself moved from NY to Kansas City in her youth. It is too bad she doesn’t live here now! I also loved the family dynamic of the Drue family, especially with Sandy and her brother Chris. This book could definitely be read by younger teens, as it addresses the struggles of growing up, but at the same time, it is a worthwhile read for adults as well.
This week I also finished When Joss Met Matt by Ellie Cahill, a book I randomly picked up off the library shelf (I brought home a whole bunch and only finished this one so far!). “Joss and Matt have been friends since freshman year of college, meeting one night after Joss is dumped by her boyfriend. After a few drinks, Matt humors her with a proposition: that he’ll become her go-to guy whenever she needs to heal a broken heart. In return, she’ll do the same for him. The #1 Rule: They’ll never fall in love with each other. People scoff at the arrangement. But six years later, Joss and Matt are still the best of friends . . . with benefits. Through a string of boyfriends and girlfriends—some almost perfect, some downright wrong—Joss and Matt are always there for each other when the going gets tough. No strings. No attachments. Piece of cake. No problem. After all, since they wrote the rules, surely they can play by them. Or can they?” Written as a back and forth between now and the past, we learn about all the relationships that Matt and Joss have been through while they always have each other to fall back on. Partly, how things turn out is predictable, but the story itself isn’t. I enjoyed the various situations both Joss and Matt found themselves in with the people they dated throughout the years, and I also enjoyed their relationship with each other. The title also gives homage to one of my favorite movies – When Harry Met Sally – and I love that aspect of the book too!
Have you read anything good lately?