My Fake Boyfriend Is Better Than Yours

Kristina Springer, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $15.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-374-39910-8

Friendship versus one-upmanship in seventh grade is the subject of Springer’s very funny and strongly realistic novel. When Tori’s longtime best friend, Sienna, returns from a summer vacation in Florida with a glamorous new look and rhapsodic reports of her perfect new boyfriend, accompanied by the quirk of pulling on her right earlobe, past experience convinces Tori that Sienna is lying. Without completely meaning to, Tori makes up her own perfect boyfriend, and the competition is on. Lying doesn’t sit well with Tori, however, and Springer (The Espressologist) believably renders her inner conflicts about handling her friendship with Sienna and her growing uneasiness about both of their lies, as well as the up-and-down swings in her relationships with her amicably divorced parents. A secondary plot involving a science teacher with a drinking problem further enlivens the story, but seems irrelevant to Tori’s deeper dilemma, which will ring true to many readers. For much of the book the suspense is low key, but Springer builds just enough minor drama into the final chapters to hold readers’ interest until the credible resolution. Ages 11–14. (Sept.)