Kody Keplinger is one of my favorite YA genres, so of course I had to read her middle-grade debut as well. In case this is the first time you heard of Kody Keplinger, she’s the young, fresh author A Midsummer’s Nightmare, Shut Out and The DUFF. I greatly respect her for taking on slut-shaming, sex, and gay marriage, to name a few. The Swift Boys & Me is drastically different than her previous novels. However, I enjoyed it all the same!
Nola Sutton, our eleven year old protagonist, has known her best friends and neighbors, the Swift boys for almost her entire life. The Swift boys, Kevin, Brian, and Canaan have played a large role in Nola’s life. Kevin is the youngest and most talkative. Brian is the oldest, kindest, and calmest. And then there’s Canaan, who’s Nola’s best friend among other labels. However, the Swift boys quickly age when their father leaves. Kevin stops talking, Brian leaves, and Canaan becomes a jerk. Can Nola figure things out, or will she lose her best friends forever?
Kody Keplinger brilliantly masters the voice of Nola. Nola’s growing up, but she’s still incredibly innocent and naive. What I love about Nola is her honesty as a narrator. She admits that she doesn’t always make the right choice, but always tries her best to fix things. She’s just so real, and by that I mean that she’s strong and soft at the same time. Sure, she’s weak some of the time, but by the end of the book, she’s really developed into a great kid.
What I love about Kody Keplinger is her ability to turn what could have been a drama into a more lighthearted novel. This book is poignant, honest, moving AND funny, a rare combination in the writing world today. Kody’s subtle humor is definitely very enjoyable. Not to mention the fact that she understands that the difficulty in balancing coincidence with normality. The Swift Boys & Me accurately describes what really could happen in a girl’s life as she grows up. I truly appreciate how much I can relate to Nola.
The Swift boys are amazing, minus Canaan when he’s being a jerk. Honestly, Kevin seems like the cutest kid ever! And Brian is so mature at times. And he’s just so nice and GAAAAAAHHHH why don’t the Swift boys exist in real life?? Even Canaan has some redeemable qualities…. some.
Kody Keplinger’s novel is definitely going on my to-buy shelf. Definitely buy it when it comes out on the 27th.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Publisher: Scholastic (May 27, 2014)
ISBN #: 9780545562003
Length: 272 pages (Hardcover)