Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: John David Anderson
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
A group of middle-school misfits have formed their own “tribe,” each member with his own name and role in their friendship. However, the arrival of Rose interrupts their harmonious peace, driving the four boys apart. Rose’s arrival also coincides with the banning of cell phones from school and the subsequent uproar from the students. Narrated by Frost, a boy nicknamed for his knack for poetry, the school erupts into the Sticky-Note War. Hallways, bathrooms, and lockers are covered with the tiny pieces of paper, each bearing a hugely hurtful message for someone. The war comes to a head when Frost’s best friend is targeted by a bully who graffities a slur across his locker, and the school comes together to cover it with sticky notes. This time, the sticky notes are filled with aphorisms and messages of support to atone for the harm the Sticky-Note War has done.
This book is set in middle school, yet subtly handles very mature themes with care and delicacy. Divorce, sexuality, and trauma are all addressed, and Frost as a narrator provides an adult tone that is unexpected in an adolescent. Though it feels that the plot is decidedly slow at points, the character development and emotions are superb. The events of the Sticky-Note War are the predominant points in the progression of the story, but the undertones and subplots delicately reveal the background to each character and entwine their personalities into a cohesive whole. Perhaps most pertinent is the theme of change present throughout the story. From the moment that Rose arrives, Frost understands that things can never go back to the way they were before, despite his own wishes, and this remains constant as the plot moves forward and each character is impacted by the Sticky-Note War. This is an important message, that change happens and does not have to be derailing, and can resonate with readers experiencing similar emotions.
*Contains mild language and mild violence.