I had only a vague idea of who Audrey Couloumbis was when I saw this at ALA, but I picked this one up because Julia Denos did the cover! And all the pretty little inside illustrations! There’s one of a hermit crab that’s just…exquisite. Anyways, I devoured it in my hotel room during ALA Midwinter and it’s just….sooo perfect. I fell completely in love with Lexie, if I ever had a daughter that’s what I’d want her to be like…So, Lexie knows that it’s going to be different this year. Her parents are divorced and instead of staying for a week at the beach with both of them and then with her mom, while her dad comes up for weekends, she’s staying a week just with her dad, then coming up for weekends. She kind of doesn’t want to go, but she kind of does.
Then she finds out they’re having guests. Then she finds out they’re having guests THE WHOLE WEEK. Then she finds out it’s her dad’s girlfriend, Vicky, her sullen teenage son and her very dirty three year old. Everything is wrong. Lexie does her best to be nice and live up to her dad’s expectations, but when she finds out her dad and Vicky are getting married, she just can’t take it anymore and realizes she needs to stand up for herself.
Lexie’s dad is completely clueless – not to mention a rather immature, selfish guy. We are totally in agreement with Lexie’s mom that she can’t live with him any longer. He goes along doing the things he wants without thinking of how they’re going to affect anyone else; or considering his daughter’s point of view. Lexie isn’t a plaster saint by any means, but she’s doing her best in a difficult situation without any support or understanding from her dad. When Lexie finally can’t take it anymore and stands up to him, I had to read that part aloud to my sister and we both cheered for her.
As you can see, the great strength of this chapter book is how real the characters are. I loved Lexie’s horror at first meeting Harris, the three year old. Three year olds are dirty and as an only child Lexie is horrified by this. She doesn’t particularly like small children and she really doesn’t want to have to drag this kid around with her. I also really liked the way Lexie watches her dad and Vicky together and analyzes whether or not they make a better couple than her mom and her dad. Ben, Vicky’s teenager, is realistically depicted from Lexie’s point of view, which is perfect. How often do you see a sulking teen shown through a pre-teen’s eyes, other than “I hate my older sister” funny plots?
And did I mention Julia Denos illustrated this story?
Verdict: So, so, perfect. You absolutely must buy this story and give it to all your eight to twelve year olds, boys and girls. Even if their parents aren’t divorced, they probably have a friend or relative who is. Plus, it’s a perfect summer beach read, sunny and a little lazy. Plus, it’s funny!
ISBN: 9780375856327; Published May 2011 by Random; ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter 2011; Purchased for the library.