I recommend this book for: grade 5 -8
Several middle schoolers recommended this title as a possible book club book, and it definitely has a lot to discuss, especially for that age group! Juli has been head over heels for Bryce since 2nd grade, and he's been just trying to keep her out of his hair. Now it's almost the end of 8th grade, and things are beginning to flip: Bryce is starting to see Juli in a new light - she's seeing him in a new light as well, but it doesn't look favorable. Told in alternating chapters between their two voices, it's interesting to see how each remembers conversations and incidents - I thought the discrepancy between the two viewpoints was funny and very true to life, and that Van Draanen managed to capture the awkwardness and embarrassment of forming relationships very well. Juli is a great protagonist with beautiful ideas and a sparkle of her own, and although Bryce is less likeable at the outset, seeing him grow in the right direction is interesting to watch. With that said, there were things that didn't exactly fly with me - like how Bryce's dad had absolutely no redeeming characteristics, and his best friend completely ditched him and told him why, directly. Overall, though, this was an enjoyable story of the frustrations and joys of seeing yourself and the people around you for what they really are - one of the more rewarding parts of middle school.