Friday, February 19, 2016

The Last Boy at St. Edith's by Lee Gjertsen Malone, 2016

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Seventh grader Jeremy Miner has a girl problem. Or, more accurately, a girls problem. Four hundred and seventy-five of them. That's how many girls attend his school, St. Edith's Academy.
Jeremy is the only boy left after the school's brief experiment in coeducation. And he needs to get out. His mom won't let him transfer, so Jeremy takes matters into his own hands: He's going to get expelled.
Together with his best friend, Claudia, Jeremy unleashes a series of hilarious pranks in hopes that he'll get kicked out with minimum damage to his permanent record. But when his stunts start to backfire, Jeremy has to decide whom he's willing to knock down on his way out the door.
Written with equal parts humor and heart, Lee Gjertsen Malone's debut is all about fitting in, standing out, and finding the place where you belong.

(224 pages)

Honestly, sometimes I struggle more writing the "meh" reviews than I do with reviewing books that incite stronger reactions in me. I think it's because the very fact that they're "meh" books means a) I have a much harder time even remembering the story enough to discuss it and b) I don't have any burning reactions I'm just dying to spit out on the page.

I mean, I liked the book - sure I did. I requested it in the first place because I loved the idea of a boy being stuck as the very last male attending an all-girl school, surrounded by no one but females all day long. I thought it was a pretty cool angle, one that I'd never seen done before, and I was excited to see it put into action.

And on one hand I enjoyed the book, because it does offer what it promises: the story revolves around Jeremy's struggle to fit in at an all-boys school, and his attempts to get expelled through a series of pranks that are mainly the brainchild of his best friend Claudia. The thing that hurts the story, for me at least, is that this is pretty much it for interesting storylines. The other storylines aren't very interesting (to me at least - you might find them more to your taste), and one - with the girl Jeremy has a crush on, and a girl who announces late into the book that she has a crush on him - is honestly just sort of cringeworthy. And I don't really like the thoughtless way Jeremy treats the people around him throughout the story.

I enjoyed reading The Last Boy at St. Edith's, but at the same time I wasn't completely engrossed. I don't usually flip forward to see how many pages are left, but I caught myself doing just that in this book. And it's not because I was thinking "oh, this is such a horrible book," but just because the small void in the back of my head wasn't absorbed enough in the story to stay quiet, and so it started whispering distracting things like, "I wonder how long this book is? Let's flip forward and see!"

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying The Last Boy at St. Edith's was the worst book ever or anything like that. It's got a cool premise, and I bet there are a lot of people out there who would absolutely love it. I'm just not one of those people, and while I did enjoy reading it - I swear I did! I'm sorry if this review is too negative! - I instantly forgot it when I put the book down. And I may come back and read it again in the future, if I'm bored and I see it sitting on a shelf, but I'm not so in love with it that I am purposefully planning to return to it someday; in fact, with all the amazing books out there just waiting to be discovered, I doubt I'll ever wind up reading this one again.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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