In the summer of 1969, Tamara Simpson is having a hard time dealing with life. Her best friend has just moved away. Her mother embarrasses her in front of the whole neighbourhood. And worst of all, no one else seems to see how much of a liar Muscle Man McGinty is. Tamara can't stand him and she can't understand why everyone else likes him so much; he's always making up outrageous stories, like he's in training for the Olympics, he can beat the whole neighbourhood in kickball, or that astronaut Neil Armstrong is his uncle.
This does not feel like a debut novel, which it is for author Nan Marino. Tamara is a girl full of anger and confusion but she never alienated me as a reader; even when I didn't like what she was doing, I empathized with her. Marino also captured the perfect pitch of neighbourhood politics (I would be interested to know if she ever participated in something like a 'gripe circle') and the mixture of adult and child thoughts that kids at this age have (war and class issues are mixed with ice cream and kickball).
This is one of those books that I would love to discuss with kids to see what they thought of it. I am eagerly looking forward to reading more by Nan Marino.
Find this book at Amazon.
Read it with:
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Moonshot by Brian Floca
The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson