Ok, so I will admit right off the bat that I am a complete pushover for books about book nerds. Wow, go figure. Even better, teenagers who are not afraid to be book nerds. So hey, a story about some kids trying to get other kids to read? Yeah, you had me at mockingbird. And yes, that’s the bird, not the jay.
So I will admit I was a little hesitant about this one. Mostly because I remember hearing how Pensacola, Florida cancelled their summer reading program this year because the Cory Doctorow novel, Little Brother was challenged, despite the fact that a group of librarians (crazy, edgy radicals, apparently!) had vetted the decision. The argument with the book is that they felt it supported a hacker culture. So, I haven’t read this book, but it was at the edge of my consciousness when I read this one.
Without getting too much into the plot, I will say that this small group of friends (who, by the way, I would definitely let my kids hang out with) tries to convince everyone to read To Kill a Mockingbird, using a kind of reverse psychology. It seems the other kids don’t recognize what a great book it is. In any case, several means are used, including crazy websites and what, in hindsight, is, questionably, stealing of a sort. So, I’m not sure if I loved all of that, but I think it was presented in a very carefully managed way. By that, I mean that kids do things one way, and sometimes have to face consequences, but everyone knows that the ends did really justify the means. This will all make much more sense to you after you read it. You should read it, by the way.
The main characters in this story are beautifully depicted. They are the best kind of friends, and now, they are on the cusp of something new and different. This is a book intended for older middle grade, where the adults are written about kindly and intelligently, and I swear, the kids reading it will barely notice, but I appreciated it. In their world, there are some really great good guys (Fat Bob), and the losers know who they are. Even the adults they don’t like get a shot at redemption. For a middle school kid like the one I was, this has it all: long summer days filled with sunshine and baseball, a true once-in-a-lifetime adventure, and even just the tiniest bit of romance. It’s about as edgy as we book nerds get.