Male role models aren’t a scarce commodity for Archer Magill, but when two of them fall in love, what does that mean for his comprehension of the weird world of adults? Then there’s all that impending puberty stuff.
Bookending his tale with two weddings (one a YouTube'd pants-splitting disaster and one a heartfelt finale with a fabulous new suit), Archer recounts his traverse from first grade to sixth, navigating family ties, school, bullies, death, marriage, and au courant political hot topics. He has a dedicated father, endearing grandfather, doting uncle, and awesome male student teacher, but that doesn’t mean he’s entirely sure-footed in following their confident strides. In fact, he’s pretty clueless in general, something his fiery best friend, Lynette, reminds him of perpetually. It’s this cluelessness that makes his journey so easy to empathize with. There’s another layer to this lighthearted coming-of-age book that makes it special in the current sociopolitical climate. Said doting uncle is in love with aforementioned student teacher: it’s Peck’s intent to spark a discussion for young readers about same-sex marriages, a topic that standardized testing and textbooks haven’t caught up with yet. Bravo. A middle-class white cast in the Midwest populates the pages, but the base of the story—navigating boyhood with positive reinforcement from friends, family, and faculty—is a broad one.
A nostalgic slice of Rockwell Americana with a contemporary filling. Delicious—take a bite. (Fiction. 8-12)