CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 22. . . .February 13, 2015
Seventeen year old Kelsey is in love with shoulders – more specifically, she’s in love with Blaine’s shoulders which she got to stare at all year in math class. Summer break is about to begin, and even her beloved magazine quizzes can’t give her a foolproof way to get her ‘shoulder fix’ over the next couple months. Her genius friend Francine, however, has a foolproof plan in spreadsheet format that will get the job done, even though Francine will be away the entire summer. A spreadsheet is a poor replacement for a best friend, but Kelsey will have to make it work. What could go wrong besides everything?
Kelsey’s shifts at the Queen’s Galley, a restaurant beside the yacht club ‘Shoulders’ will be working at, fit perfectly around her younger brother Chet’s swimming lessons. Although Kelsey loves her little brother and knows it can be difficult for her parents balancing work and ensuring their son, who has Down syndrome, has a full life with all the experiences other kids his age have, she sometimes feels like she’s a third parent and not Chet’s big sister. She can understand why they might appreciate her help because while he’s very charming, Chetter, Kelsey’s pet name for her little brother, can be a handful. Even the most organized plan, perfect spreadsheet included, can’t account for everything, and a blue mohawk on a bike. The guy with the blue mohawk, Luke, seems to go out of his way to ruin Kelsey’s summer, made easier because he’s also working at the Queen’s Galley for the summer. Although he goes out of his way to cover for and help her whether she wants it or not, she writes him off as a criminal and all around ne’er do well. He almost destroys her faith in magazine quizzes when they point her again and again toward Luke and not her true love, Blaine. Only after she drunkenly rants at a boat party where she tells Luke exactly what she thinks of him and his philandering father and her true love Blaine using her to get himself and his friends into the bar at the Queen’s Gallery does she begin to realize the quizzes may know her better than she knows herself.
When Kelsey confronts her mother about the tension in their home and the extra responsibilities she’s been given taking care of Chet, she finds out her parents aren’t getting a divorce as she’d thought. Her father has been laid off and is spending a lot of time searching for jobs, which is why they’ve given Kelsey extra responsibilities. Once she’s started talking, Kelsey can’t stop: she tells her mother about her boss who spends most of his time telling her how stupid she is along with how terrible she is at her job. Kelsey’s mother can’t believe someone would talk to and treat her daughter with such disrespect. Her response, marching into the restaurant and making it clear no one gets away with treating her daughter or anyone else so poorly, terrifies the manager who is more than happy to respond to all of her demands, including Kelsey’s getting the afternoon off to attend, rather than serve at, Luke’s father’s wedding. Kelsey’s co workers look on in awe and admiration as her mother lectures their boss and reins in his ego. Readers will feel the same satisfaction as the characters as Kelsey’s rude and irrational boss is taught a lesson in a way only a mother could deliver.
Myers’ characters, all with very human flaws, are hard not to love from the start. Readers will feel Kelsey’s pain as she tries to figure out what’s going on with her parents who look so stressed and tired all of the time, how to win Blaine’s heart and not let Francine and her plan down, and what it is that annoys her so much about Luke. They’ll experience Kelsey’s firsts like they’re their own: first love, first broken heart, first job, first time drinking, and the first time standing up to her parents. Kelsey is easy to relate to, and readers will surely root for her even when her choices are cringe worthy. With the book ending with Kelsey and Luke’s first date, his father’s wedding at the Queen’s Galley which his father owns, readers will be left hoping there’s a sequel to come.
Crystal Sutherland is a MEd (Literacy) and MLIS graduate living in Halifax, NS, where she is solo librarian for the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women.
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