Review Detail

Kids Fiction 173
Thoughtful look at boys' friendships
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Matt and Ethan have been best friends for several years, and are navigating the choppy waters of middle school. Matt, who is Korean American, is a flute player like his father, but plays drums in the marching band so that people don't make fun of him and so that he can hang out with Ethan. Classmates like Kenny and his sidekick Sean are quick to give the boys a hard time, throwing around the epithet "gay", although it is likely that Kenny is protesting too much. When the band has the opportunity to play in a festival at an amusement park in the spring, everyone is excited about competing and spending time at the park. Matt and Ethan realizes, however, that the competition is the same weekend as a comic con they would really like to go to so they could meet Jonah Burns, the author of their favorite comic, Sandpiper. (Which I'm pretty sure is not an actual work.) When Ethan finds out that his family will be moving across the country after school is out, the two plan to sneak away from the school trip and attend the comic con. Sean finds out about their plans and wants to go with them, and when they tell him they would rather go alone, his feelings are hurt, and he lashes out at the two. Things get even more heated on the trip when Kenny is around.
Good Points
Matt's parents are possibly my favorite #MGLit parents ever, but we don't see that much of them. They attend the Unitarian Universalist church, spout phrases like "Respect bodily autonomy", invite over other families who are also of Korean descent, and have snacks like sriracha kale chips! Of course, they mortify Matt! It's great to see a solid friendship among boys, and also good that they don't change their friendship because people at their school (and even some people in the comic store) assume that they are a couple. The interest in comics, and the attempts to connect with Sean, albeit ultimately unsuccessful, added an interesting layer to this.

There's a good amount of discussion about how much grief boys who play flute get from their classmates, and I'm hoping this surprises most readers. There were male flute players when I was in middle school forty years ago, and no one cared. Now, the drummers in my school's band are evenly split by gender, with the occasional nonbinary student. As for boys who read books with girls on the cover getting a hard time... we have a lot of discussion about this in my library (and have for years), so I hope this is not the case at my school. I'm sad that Jung's experience of the world has so much negativity, but perhaps books like this will help change that.

Personally, I was disappointed by the twist that this took, because I was so looking forward to a particular adventure that didn't happen, but I'll definitely be purchasing this. Jung's Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities (2012) circulates well, and The Boys in the Back Row addresses a lot of timely issues of friendship, racial and gender related microagressions, and toxic masculinity.
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Manga Classics Hamlet: Shakespeare
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
The dead still walk in Denmark. Already crushed by his...
Wings of Ebony (Wings of Ebony, #1)
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
In this riveting, keenly emotional debut fantasy, a Black...
All the Tides of Fate (All the Stars and Teeth, #2)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The thrilling sequel to instant New York Times bestseller All...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Perfect for fans of the Selection series by Kiera Cass....
Born Royal
 
3.8
 
0.0 (0)
Imprisoned and experimented on since she was twelve, Princess...
Born at Dawn
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Half-human thief Neva Roberts, 17, has always hidden her...
I'll Be the One (I'll Be the One #1)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The world of K-Pop has never met a star...
The Dog Patrol: Our Canine Companions and the Kids Who Protect Them
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
In a full-color dog book unlike any other, acclaimed children’s...
Unchosen
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Katharyn Blair crafts a fiercely feminist fantasy with a...
Watch Over Me
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
Mila is used to being alone. Maybe that’s why...
The Safekeeper
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Her job is to keep their secrets safe. ...
City of the Plague God
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents CITY OF THE PLAGUE GOD,...
The Shadow War
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Inglourious Basterds meets Stranger Things in this dark and thrilling...
The Valley and the Flood
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Rose Colter is almost home, but she can't go back...
Don't Tell A Soul
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Stay up all night with this modern day Rebecca! Perfect...
58 Farm End
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
58 Farm End: a twisted romantic crime thriller series (Book...

Latest Member Reviews

My First 100 Space Words
 
3.3
"MY FIRST 100 SPACE WORDS is a cute, illustrated collection of space-related words, including planet names, satellites, space junk, and..."
The ABCs of Black History
 
5.0
"THE ABCS OF BLACK HISTORY is a fantastic picture book of a poetic walk through the alphabet related to Black..."
Incredible Animals
 
5.0
"INCREDIBLE ANIMALS is a fascinating collection of animals by special skills, including clever camouflage, devoted parents (such as penguins), and..."
Eyelike Stickers: Trains
 
5.0
"EYELIKE STICKERS: TRAINS is an unbelievably cool collection of stickers. These 400 stickers include many photographs of trains, as well..."
Amazing Places
 
4.7
"AMAZING PLACES is a delightful exploration of 15 manmade wonders, including the Taj Mahal, pyramids, and Moai (Easter Island). The..."
About Seabirds: A Guide for Children
 
5.0
"'About Seabirds: A Guide for Children' by Cathryn Sill, illustrated by John Sill, lends credibility to the power of nature..."
The Cat in the Box
 
3.3
"THE CAT IN THE BOX attempts to explain Schrodinger's work regarding quantum paradox. While the original thought experiment explained this,..."
5-Minute Really True Stories for Bedtime: 30 Amazing Stories: Featuring frozen frogs, King Tut’s beds, the world's biggest sleepover, the phases of the moon, and more
 
5.0
"5 MINUTE REALLY TRUE STORIES FOR BEDTIME is a very cool collection of bedtime themed stories. It spans topics from..."
Earth-Shattering Events: Volcanoes, earthquakes, cyclones, tsunamis and other natural disasters
 
5.0
"Earth-Shattering Events by Robin Jacobs is a wonderfully thought-out book that details different natural disasters: what they are, how we..."
Gut Garden: A journey into the wonderful world of your microbiome
 
4.7
"Gut Garden by Katie Brosnan is a well-thought out journey through our digestive system, introducing kids to the bacteria and..."
ICK! Delightfully Disgusting Animal Dinners, Dwellings, and Defenses
 
5.0
"National Geographic Kids is always sure to be a winner at my house. Their newest release has been deemed the..."
Dinosaurs Are Not Extinct: Real Facts About Real Dinosaurs
 
4.3
"Dinosaurs Are Not Extinct by Drew Sheneman is a short, illustrated nonfiction book introducing children to one of the more..."
Space Maps
 
5.0
"SPACE MAPS is a seriously cool oversized book with tons of information about the universe, planets, stars, our exploration, and..."
Curious About Mammals
 
4.0
"CURIOUS ABOUT MAMMALS is a board book that presents some basic facts about mammals alongside realistic illustrations. It starts with..."
Our Dogs, Ourselves
 
4.7
"Ms. Horowitz is a scientist who studies dogs and who has written several books about dogs and their behavior, including..."
Blood and Germs: The Civil War Battle Against Wounds and Disease (Medical Fiascoes)
 
5.0
"One of the enduring conundrums of readers advisory I have is this: how do I get books about war to..."
What Can You See? At Night
 
5.0
"WHAT CAN YOU SEE? AT NIGHT is a delightful die-cut board book that peeks through to show all sorts of..."
I Can Code: If/Then
 
3.7
"I CAN CODE: IF/THEN is a book that tries to distill coding concepts to a toddler level. The book takes..."
I Promise You
 
3.5
"I PROMISE YOU is a lovely picture book read of a message between caregiver and child. The book promises the..."
Pocket Piggies: Christmas!
 
4.0
"POCKET PIGGIES: CHRISTMAS! is an adorable photo collection of miniature pigs in Christmas scenes. The text creates some rhymes, but..."