cover image A Song for Bijou

A Song for Bijou

Josh Farrar. Walker, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8027-3394-8

In this modern-day Romeo and Juliet romance, Farrar (Rules to Rock By) contrasts the cultures of two neighborhoods and two students in Brooklyn, N.Y. Seventh-grader Alex Schrader is smitten when he first lays eyes on Bijou Doucet, the “beautiful girl with butterfly braids” who survived the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and now attends a nearby school. Courting Bijou proves problematic for Alex since Bijou’s strict uncle won’t let her leave the house unescorted—it takes creative strategizing, help from mutual friends, and breaking household rules for the two to get together. For Alex, getting to know Bijou and the music and culture of her community firsthand are worth the risk; Bijou is less sure. Inevitably, trouble brews when the couple are caught lying to their guardians, and a mean prank carried out by Alex’s nemesis also threatens to curtail the blossoming friendship. Although the novel’s celebratory conclusion is a little farfetched, Alex and Bijou’s narrative voices are distinct and authentic. Readers will admire his heroic traits and sympathize with her conflicting loyalties. Ages 10–14. (Feb.)