Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 139
Close friends can heal raw emotions.
Overall rating
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What worked:
Miho’s determination to recover from a devastating breakup is the impetus behind the plot. She’s dumped by her “boyfriend” of two years when she learns he’s going to marry another girl he got pregnant. It’s amusing that he’s called Scumbucket for most of the plot. Miho decides to enter Hawaii’s Ironman Triathlon even though her only athletic ability is riding a bike. The race consists of swimming 2 ½ miles in the ocean, biking 120 miles, and then running a 26-mile marathon, so it seems like an impossible feat for Miho to complete. The story reflects her trials and tribulations, her highs and lows, as she pushes herself beyond and previous physical and mental challenges.
Miho has a diverse group of close friends who do all they can to support her. They all have impressive plans after graduation, such as attending MIT and Stanford University, and they combine their talents to create Miho’s training regimen. X is her best friend, motivator, and confidant, and those are tough roles to fulfill with Miho’s turbulent emotions. Other friends assist with her diet, style and appearance, and trying to find equipment worthy of a triathlete. However, the team members struggle with expectations, sexuality, love, and trust that complicate their relationships. Much like Miho, they’re forced to reflect on their own lives and contemplate their futures after graduation.
In addition to her ex-boyfriend problems, Miho also wrestles with self-image and socio-economic questions. She’s the one member of the team who doesn’t seem to have a plan for what she’ll do after high school. She’s afraid to apply to colleges despite scoring a perfect 1600 on her SAT’s. She has a talent for art but doesn’t think it’s better than a hobby. Her father lost a leg and his disability income won’t cover costs for tuition, housing, and books. Miho can’t afford a car or new clothes, and she delivers pizzas around the area on her heavy-duty bike. One member of the group comes from a wealthy family, and Miho is very uncomfortable accepting “charity” from her. Miho wants to earn everything she receives so she’s reluctant to accept any kind of help. All of these factors create feelings of inferiority and undermine her efforts to face challenges.
What didn’t work as well:
As an adult male, it was more difficult for me to connect with the emotional turmoil of a seventeen-year-old girl. Right from the start, Miho is hurt, furious, and devastated about being dumped by her boyfriend but holds out hope that he still might come return to her. Miho’s strong feelings are evident throughout the story, but the overall book ardently describes her inspirational story.
The Final Verdict:
Close friends can heal raw emotions. Readers will need to be prepared for a lot of feelings talk and Miho’s thoughts about her life. Teenage readers can easily relate to Miho’s problems as they contemplate their relationships and lives after high school. Girls might connect with Miho’s character more easily, but I can recommend this book to all readers due to her ability to persevere and achieve her goal.
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