My Life with the Walter Boys

Ali Novak. Sourcebooks Fire, $9.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-4022-9786-1
Novak's first novel—which she wrote at age 15 and posted on social network Wattpad, where it gained a large fan base—is set just after 16-year-old Jackie's entire family dies in a car accident. She moves from New York City to Colorado with her mother's good friend, her new guardian. Now, Jackie will be living on a ranch with a family of 11 boys (including two sets of twins), their sole unfriendly sister, and a pet snake. The chaotic household's constant noise, sibling conflicts, and disarmingly laidback environment leave her disoriented, but also distract her from her recent tragedy. A compulsive organizer by nature, Jackie learns that not everything can be compartmentalized, and a messy romantic entanglement only throws her life into further disarray. Novak spreads the story thin, introducing multiple characters without developing them much. Prosaic descriptions at times undermine the story's emotional depth, and Jackie's response to her tremendous loss comes across as mechanical. Yet the themes of seizing rather than planning each moment and allowing for life's untidiness are explored with energy and humor. Ages 12–up. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 04/14/2014
Release date: 03/01/2014
Genre: Children's
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