Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Terra Elan McVoy
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Charlotte is just Oliver’s lowly band manager until the “golden summer” before junior year, when she starts writing songs with cute new bandmate Trip. But when the school year begins, Trip unexpectedly quits not just the band, but his friendship with Char, too. Without Trip, Char struggles to write. Then her new band members encourage her to sing, and soon she is embracing a new role as lead singer in the band. Suddenly the former high-school nobody is the girl everyone wants to know, but nasty rumors lead to a major falling out with Oliver, and Char leaves the band. They reconcile just in time for their biggest performance of the year, where Trip reveals the feelings he’s had for Char all along, and Char learns that the best kind of boy friend is the one who loves you just the way you are.
While author Terra Elan McVoy successfully captures the capricious moods of teenagers in Being Friends with Boys, the narrative has an episodic feel. McVoy covers important themes for teens, from blended families to anxiety about college and relationships with LGBTQ peers, but her numerous subplots distract from the book’s primary theme of understanding who you are and chasing the dreams you choose—not those others choose for you. Main character Charlotte is relatable and well-developed as a struggling student with hidden musical talents, but the many male characters are fairly flat or even absent for much of the book, like Trip, who makes a surprising reappearance at the end. Overall, the narrative lacks a unifying central conflict and gratifying resolution, leaving readers less-than-satisfied at the final curtain call.
*Contains some mild language, mild sexuality, and mild drug use.