Rising sixth-graders Ren and Sutton bond through training Birmingham Roller pigeons.
When Ren’s family moves outside of town, Ren decides he will train for cross country—but he hates the running so much that he’s quickly distracted by the discovery of a new neighbor, a girl with a surprising passion: training her father’s pigeons. Sutton’s father has been hospitalized after a serious automobile accident. Ren’s best (and only) friend is developing other interests. Over the course of this story of friendship and self-discovery, geeky Ren comes to realize that he’s not likely to become an athlete like his father or his friend Aiden but that Sutton likes him for himself. They share interests, not only in Sutton’s birds, but also in ancient comic books and silly YouTube videos. There’s some suspense as they work toward a regional competition, and there are bumps in the road, both in the developing friendship and the training of Sutton’s kit of pigeons. All these Minnesota preteens are probably white, though Sutton’s dyed hair is an improbable red. It’s refreshing to have a sensitive male protagonist in a story about relationships. Information about raising and flying roller pigeons sprinkled throughout will likely introduce readers to a hobby they haven’t encountered before.
A fresh take on a familiar challenge: a friend who develops a teen body and interests more quickly.