I have not read a Young Adult book in several years (the last one being Jay Asher’s “The Future of Us” before starting doing more reviews for this page), and was excited when I read the synopsis for Jared Reck’s “A Short History of the Girl Next Door” ( Knopf Books For Young Readers 2017), however the book is as disappointing as losing the championship basketball game that the main character may encounter.
The book is about Matt , who is in love with his best friend, Tabby, and has yet to tell his feeling for her. They have been friends since childhood, hanging out watching Star Wars movies and eating his little brother Murray’s Nerds candy after taking him Trick or Treating. But when Tabby starts to date the star player on the basketball team, a senior named Liam, her freshman year, Matt starts to feel jealously and wonders if he is losing his friendship that he grew up loving.
There are plenty of basketball descriptions in the book, since both Liam and Matt are on the basketball team(and live for the game), which is reminiscent of the television show “One Tree Hill” (which I loved), but once something tragic happens in Matt’s life, he has to struggle with dealing with his feelings while handling his other pressures, like school, assignments, and basketball.
There are some good things about the book, like the humorous titles that start each chapter, and Matt’s English Teacher, Mr. Ellis, is not your typical teacher that a person on the basketball team would find amusing, but Matt enjoys the writing and jokes that happen in his class (once again, a possible nod to “One Tree Hill’s” Lucas character). Another humorous part is when Matt’s mother decides to match his Halloween costume with Murray, who is four at the time, which gives the reader a flashback to the classic movie “A Christmas Story.” Without giving spoilers, there is a part towards the end of the book that captures a touching interaction with Matt and his Grandfather. Also, many o have dealt with the struggles of having feelings for their best female friend growing up either in high school or junior high and whether or not to tell that person.
With that said, the biggest distraction from the book is its language. There is not a page that goes by where there is not some sort of cuss word on the page, and most of the time, it is not in a humorous way. The cursing is overdone to the fact that it just gets annoying, and offensive, after a few chapters. Yes, I know kids today cuss more than usual, but in this case, it’s almost used as a way that the author couldn’t come up with a creative way to get the characters to say anything. High school kids can (and do) drop F -bombs from time to time (my years in education can attest to that), but it’s totally useless to have something along the lines of “What the F#@*’n F,” or “F&$*’n F%ck Me” (the exact quotes are not used but are similar in nature, due to the fact I am using an advanced copy for this review, but it’s very close to this on a constant basis). This book is geared for ages 12 and up, but I wouldn’t let a 12-15 year old get a hold of this book just because of the language. This is geared for a more mature teen reader, closer to 18 year olds.
The story is nice overall, but the ending becomes a let down, and leaves the reader hanging with wanting to know how the characters end up, but even that made me not really care about the characters that much, due to the excessive language throughout the book. I ended up not caring or feeling sympathetic towards Matt, or his problems, with his massive use of cussing so much. I have much respect for any writer who gets a book published, along with getting their book on a major publisher, and as much as I wanted to like this book, due to the language and story ending, the overall book falls flat in my opinion.
(A Special Thanks to Random House Teens and Knopf Books for Young Readers for the Advanced Kindle Copy for this review).
“A Short History of The Girl Next Door” by Jared Reck (ISBN: 978-1-5247-1607-3) is available where you get books. You can download it as well (EBook ISBN: 978-1-5247-1609-7) or go to: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com , along with their other book titles.
You can find Jered Reck at http://www.jaredreckbooks.com