Just Friends

Dyan Sheldon. Candlewick, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7636-9354-1
Using a droll third-person narrative, Sheldon (The Truth About My Success) hilariously chronicles an endearingly dorky teenager’s first infatuation. Josh Shine is smitten with new girl Jena Capistrano the first time he sees her, but she ignores him until the day Josh is out walking his best friend Ramona’s highly energetic dog, which runs up the Capistranos’ tree. The two become friends, despite the fact that Jena has become part of the popular crowd at school, which vintage movie watcher and chess player Josh is in no danger of joining. Jena appreciates Josh’s reliability and frequently asks him to come to the rescue when she is frightened about being alone or brooding over one of her many less-than-perfect dates (“Jena’s dates may all have something wrong with them,” writes Sheldon, “but it is never that they have a face that is best seen from behind”). Meanwhile, Josh’s friend Ramona is secretly crushing on him, and Josh’s friend Sal has fallen for Ramona. It’s not hard to predict how things will shake out, but Sheldon’s romantically entangled plot offers plenty of entertainment. Ages 12–up. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/20/2017
Release date: 02/13/2018
Genre: Children's
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