Thirteen-year-old Mary Lou Finney has an assignment to keep a journal over the summer. She thinks it's boring, but finds herself filling up more than one book as things start to happen. First, her 17-year-old cousin Carl Ray comes to stay with their family. Then her best friend gets a boyfriend, making her feel left out, and suddenly a boy shows interest in her. Creech is good at putting you right in the mind of a 13-year-old girl, and Mary Lou's summer experiences and the lessons she learns from them make an interesting and fun read. It's a book I will definitely keep for my kids.
Mary Lou Finney is less than excited about her assignment to keep a journal over the summer. Then, her cousin Carl Ray comes to stay with her family. At first, Mary Lou is disappointed with Carl Ray. She thinks he is lazy and not very interesting. While Carl Ray gets settled, Mary Lou records the events of her everyday life in her journal. Her friend Beth Ann has been invited to join a secret club, a cute boy named Alex invites her to go swimming, and a neighbor with a mysterious relationship to Carl Ray passes away unexpectedly. As the mystery unfolds, Mary Lou finds there is more to Carl Ray - and to herself - than she ever knew.
Mary Lou Finney grudgingly begins writing a journal as an assignment for school--would anything interesting ever happen to her? What follows is the story of a wildly chaotic and romantic summer. How could she have known about Carl Ray and the little black car? Or what would happen on Booger Hill? Or about the permanently pink Alex Cheevy? Mary Lou's tale is filled with hilarious observations on love, death, and the confusing mechanics of holding hands.
This is a good book which is loosely connected to Walk Two Moons by Creech. It is a journal that was required writing during the summer and it chronicals the life of a young teenage girl. It is a cute book but not as good as Walk Two Moons.
From Publishers Weekly
In what by now must be a subgenre in YA fiction-the novel cast as a journal written for an English assignment-Newbery Medalist Creech (Walk Two Moons) spins an affable if formulaic tale about one pivotal summer. Narrator Mary Lou, 13, the second of the five Finney children, is quite put out when she has to play maid for her uncommunicative cousin Carl Ray, 17, who comes to stay while he looks for a job. He gets one, to Mary Lou's surprise, at the hardware store owned by their new neighbor Mr. Furtz, who shortly afterward dies of a heart attack. Not only does Carl Ray remain in his new job, but an anonymous benefactor leaves him money-just like in Great Expectations, as Mary Lou points out. There the resemblance to Dickens ends: the astute reader will early on figure out the mystery behind Carl Ray's inheritance. Mary Lou is also slow to pick up clues about why her cute classmate Alex is always hanging around. Despite the occasionally creaky plot, Mary Lou's bouncy entries are still a lot of fun. Readers will enjoy her wry commentary on The Odyssey (on the school reading list), and girls especially will identify with Mary Lou's disgust at the giddy behavior of boy-crazy best friend Beth Ann and her own giggly rhapsodies on her first romance ("I am sooooo happeeeeee I can hardly stand it!"). Ages 10-14.
From School Library Journal
Grade 6-9?Creech's newest story is told as a summer journal begrudgingly started as an English assignment. Mary Lou, 13, wonders if kisses with boys really taste like chicken; if her best friend will ever shut up about her new boyfriend; and how her visiting cousin, Carl Ray, can be such a silent clod, especially when someone has anonymously given him $5000. Later, when he is in a coma following a car accident, she rereads her journal and wonders how she could have been so unseeing. Mary Lou is a typical teen whose acquaintance with the sadder parts of life is cushioned by a warm and energetic family. Her entertaining musings on Homer, Shakespeare, and Robert Frost are drawn in nifty parallels to what is happening in her own life. When forbidden by her mother to say "God," "stupid," and "stuff," she makes a trek to the thesaurus to create some innovative interjections. Creech's dialogue is right on target. Her characterization is nicely done also. By comparison, this book is differently voiced than Walk Two Moons (HarperCollins, 1994), lacks that book's masterful imagery, and is more superficial in theme; but appropriately so. Creech has remained true to Mary Lou, who is a different narrator, and one who will win many fans of her own. Those in search of a light, humorous read will find it; those in search of something a little deeper will also be rewarded.?Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY
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