A Magical Read!
May 21, 2019
Blurb: The second book in a series where your favorite literary characters come to life, inspired by the timeless classic, Little Women!
There’s no one better than the boy next door. At least not according to Aurora Campbell, fourteen, who has been in love with Tobias May since their very first sandbox kiss. The problem is, he’s in love with her older sister, Merrilee. And Merri is already dating one of his best friends.
Rory is learning all about pining as her class reads The Great Gatsby, a book she doesn’t find “great” at all. Also not great—her GPA, something she needs to fix, quickly, if she’d like to apply for the chance to spend a week studying art with her hero in New York City over winter break. But when Ms. Gregoire assigns her to read Little Women for extra credit, Rory discovers more than she expected—both about herself and Toby. Maybe she wasn’t in love with the boy next door. . . but the boy next story.
Love is complicated, and it’s all about to get even trickier for Rory at Reginald R. Hero Prep . . . where with the help of one quirky English teacher, students’ fantasies come true, often with surprising consequences.
SASCHA DARLINGTON’S REVIEW
My two favorite books from childhood were Old Yeller and Little Women. The first I will never again read as an adult, not even an adaptation, because of the ending–Old Yeller! 😦 . And, the second, well, keep ’em coming, however, I doubt that many, if any, adaptations or revisits will be quite as magical as Tiffany Schmidt’s The Boy Next Story .
While you might think it would be easy to retell a story with magnificent results, because the story’s already told for you, it is, rather, a daunting task because the story has to be different enough and yet still be appealing. The Boy Next Story. Schmidt scores on both of those points.
Rory is at 14/15 already a talented artist so much so that she is the only Freshmen in the advanced art class. While this might seem excellent, it becomes a minefield when her upper level classmates view her as extremely tough competition for a contest that she doesn’t even know anything about. While she deals with daily sabotage of her art, she also has to deal with failing math. Her new school just isn’t what she thought it would be. On top of that, there’s the fact that her forever crush, Toby, is in love with her older sister, Merri, even though Merri is dating Toby’s best friend. Everything looks a little bleak.
The Boy Next Story is magical. Literally. And, figuratively. The characters are all multi-layered and while on some level they have been inspired by Louisa May Alcott’s, Schmidt has made them very much her own. Rory eats a plant-based diet but doesn’t identify as vegan because it’s not for the animals. Now, this might not strike you as unusual, but it’s almost knee-jerk anymore for a vegan teenager to be an animal lover. I found it compelling, certainly enough to mention that this isn’t the case here. Also, Rory is initially a doormat, but she changes and grows throughout the novel. She is probably one of the most multi-faceted characters I’ve read lately in YA literature.
Then there is the romance. There are charming bits. Slightly heart-breaking bits. Big smiley bits. And laugh-out-loud, sometimes cringe-worthy bits. I loved it!
Beyond the romance, Little Women was, of course, about sisters, and The Boy Next Story is no different. I loved the solidarity, the misunderstandings, the realizations, the bonding, the support, the love.
I almost forgot to mention the actual writing. Schmidt has an eye for detail but also an ear for the rhythm of language and some of the passages are beautifully written.
I want to gush on, tell you that I just bought the first book in the series before I even finished this one because I was enamored, because I wanted this magic and all the feels to keep happening. The Boy Next Story is definitely one my favorite YA novels in a long time. It can be read as a standalone.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
5 out of 5 butterflies