Writing about nice people is always a risk.
Lucy and Dov may be nice, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy. Dov’s brother died in a sudden accident, and Lucy has just been dumped by her boyfriend. And Dov, a transfer student from Israel, isn’t always nice. He can be argumentative and sometimes refuses to speak at all. But for most of the novel, the two of them get along so well that there’s no conflict. They drink cider and eat doughnuts. They talk about poetry. The book’s central dilemma is that any relationship they have will be short-lived; Dov wants to serve in the Israeli army, while Lucy has plans to go to college near her family in Chicago (With few physical descriptions, the characters seem to be more multinational than racially diverse. Dov has blue eyes, and Lucy’s best friend is described as pale. Lucy’s grandmother has a female partner.) Creative readers will come up with all sorts of ways to solve the problem, but in the book, even after a solution presents itself, the characters keep on arguing. Maybe they just love drama. In one scene, Dov moodily decides to go running during a tornado watch.
Happy families may not all be alike, but they can be a little dull. Still, the characters are so well-drawn that many readers will have a very nice time in their company. (Fiction. 14-19)