Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Shannon Hitchcock
Publisher: Scholastic Press
After moving to a new school for seventh grade, Allison meets Sam, and they become best friends. Before that, Allie’s life had been falling apart. Her brother passed away and her Dad left, and now her Mom is overly protective of her. Sam makes all of that better. Allie’s nothing but happy when she thinks of her, and when they touch, her heart beats fast. She would call it a crush, but living in a small town in the mid-1970s, most people Allie knows would tell her it’s wrong for her to like girls. Especially Sam’s parents. With the help of good friends and a wise minister, Allie and Sam begin the process of understanding who they are. Through complicated circumstances, and with critical people all around, they have to decide how they’ll respond to the controversial feelings inside them.
This book starts out very fast paced. Dialogue flies from subject to subject and the story flies from event to event. Eventually, the pace slows down and it becomes easier to handle. Every so often however, it picks up speed again. It does this in the last few pages, leaving the ending feeling a bit unsatisfying. Aside from that, however, the book is well written. The characters are well developed. Allie’s voice is accurately that of a twelve-year-old, and it is easy to sympathize with her and Sam. Christianity is a major theme, as both Allie and Sam’s parents are religious, and religion is where the majority of the LGBT+ oppression in their town stems from. Allie receives a lot of her strength from Reverend Walker, whose church does teach that homosexuality is a sin, but who suggests it isn’t as big a sin as it is made out to be. In the end, Allie hasn’t yet decided how she will act on her feelings, but she decides not to repress them. Simply written, this book is an age-appropriate read for middle school children. It’s a great way to teach them about acceptance of oneself and others.