Monday, October 26, 2009
Review: Luv Ya Bunches by Lauren Myracle
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Katie-Rose, Violet, Yasaman, and Camilla have hardly anything in common, except that they’re all going into fifth grade at the same elementary school. Katie-Rose is a little spastic and spends most of her time behind a film camera, but still desires some female friends. Violet is the new girl with a sad family secret. Yasaman gets made fun of for her head-scarf, but she’s brilliant with computers. And Milla’s having trouble trying to remain friends with the popular Modessa and her crony, Quin.
Then, on the first day of school, Violet asks Katie-Rose for directions, Katie-Rose flings her directional arm into Yasaman, who trips and falls into Camilla, making her spill the contents of her backpack. In the process, Milla’s lucky bobblehead turtle is lost, and the drama that ensues might set the whole fifth grade in an uproar…or bring four different girls together in friendship.
Lauren Myracle’s writerly charm and humor persist even as she delves into a sort of chick lit for the elementary school lot. Her characters are fun and real, and the issues they face and the lessons they learn—what it means to be a friend—will touch the hearts of readers of any age.
There are pretty much no weak points in LUV YA BUNCHES. The four girls, who each get to tell their stories via different mediums, are as different yet ultimately as compatible as you and your group of friends. Each girl genuinely has heart, an important character quality that all too often goes missing in the course of writing a story. As a result, readers will want these girls for their best friends—or sisters, or daughters, depending on your age!
Perhaps most remarkable about Lauren’s writing, though, is her ability to incidentally include details that can be big issues on their own. For example, Camilla has two mothers, Yasaman is Muslim, Violet’s mother has issues we don’t usually see in children’s literature, and Katie-Rose is half-Asian. It’s remarkable how effortlessly these details fold into the story, becoming simply an important but not overbearing part of their identity. We need more of those kinds of literature nowadays.
Overall, LUV YA BUNCHES is an absolutely perfect read for elementary-age girls and their mothers. With a heartwarming cast of characters, endless entertaining situations, and an important message of friendship bringing out the best in you, it’s a winner for everyone. Pick it up, and you won’t be able to stop giggling and smiling, reliving the best—and worst—of fifth grade!
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Abrams / Oct. 1, 2009 / Hardcover / $15.95
Thank you, Abrams, for sending me an ARC via a ShelfAwareness promotion.