I picked this one up because of all of the rave reviews it was getting on various blogs. Plus, it is set in Nebraska – how many books can you name that are sent in Nebraska (beyond The Echo Maker)? And how can you not love the author’s name – Rainbow Rowell? Plus, there is a Korean character, and the female protagonist is very much atypical, both in terms of physical appearance and general attitudes. All told, there were a lot of intriguing elements.
For a while, it seemed like a fairly familiar plot. Two individuals, struggling as individuals in both their homes and at their school, find each other. What made it unique seemed to be the details – the music, the allusions, the nature of the two main characters, etc.. But there’s always something lurking under the surface and Rowell handles it masterfully. I am not going to spoil anything here, but I completely fell for the red herring Rowell offers and was, despite some definite foreshadowing, absolutely knocked flat when the truth got revealed. I raced through the last 50 pages or so to the ending that was very much earned, even if it wasn’t the ending I wanted (which shows just how much I was engaged with the story).
It’s tricky to identify the right age range for this story – a mature 7th and 8th grader. No matter what, if your kid is reading it, you should read it together. There will be some questions.