Gr 8 Up
Maclean’s novel in verse has a hypnotic rhythm that pulls readers into the mind of 15-year-old Nix. Formerly known as “Fatty Humbolt,” he is struggling with his crush on Loren Cody, the girlfriend of the best player on the hockey team, and his love-hate relationship with his older sister, Roxy. With her “Vampire Red” hair, endless stream of boyfriends, and rebellious energy, Roxy is the polar opposite of Nix, who likes to fade into the background and thinks it’s hard to talk to anyone, let alone members of the opposite sex. Nix finds solace and self-expression in his woodworking. Then Roxy falls for Bryan Sykes, a popular but notorious cad and politician’s son, and Nix is forced to come out of his shell and find his voice. The poems successfully capture the cadences of modern teenage speech and behavior in unadorned language. The sparse verse also provides the perfect narrative voice to express Nix’s taciturn strength. Readers used to a diet of cliché-ridden YA fiction will enjoy this refreshing take on the teenage plight, and, although the ending is particularly painful and poignant, the hard-won hopefulness of Nix’s growth will linger with them long after the poetry ends.
– Trev Jones, Book Review Editor, School Library Journal