Hartnett, Sonya Golden Boys, 238 pg. Penguin Group, 2014. Language: PG-13 (45 swears, 2 f's, crude language); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.
The neighborhood kids watch as a new family moves into the area. It’s clear pretty fast that they are better off than most, which makes them different than everyone else in the neighborhood. They go to a better school and they have so much stuff to play with it is nearly overwhelming. In addition, they are putting a pool in the backyard. Surprisingly, the dad is very open, inviting and willing to share all that he has given his two sons. As the neighborhood kids become more involved with this new family, the secrets that have been kept behind closed doors begin to come out.
In some ways this was an amazing book and I read it mostly in one afternoon. I had a hard time putting it down. I liked the writing and felt I knew and understood the characters. That being said, it was not a happy read and, in the end, I was disappointed. Although the characters are young (ages 10-13), it doesn’t feel young. The language count is high and the content is mature so I would recommend it to older students. If you have mature students who like realistic fiction, they may find value in this. The story ends abruptly with no resolutions to the events in the book so be prepared. It was like glimpsing a small, random segment of their life, and the worst offenders were the adults with no consequences for their actions. I'm ok with the realism and the abrupt ending, I even understand why one character believes he deserves to be punished for what his father did, but was disappointed when the author didn't offer any follow-up conversation – it just ended. I was really hoping for a bit more on how it's not a child's fault for what a parent does.
HS - OPTIONAL Reviewer: RB