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My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours Hardcover – August 31, 2010
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5-7–For Tori Barnes, choosing the perfect outfit for the first day of school is essential and has always required the help of her friend Sierra for weeks beforehand. But now everything is different. Sierra's family recently became rich, and when they spent the entire summer on the beach relaxing, Sierra didn't stay in touch. When Tori arrives for the first day of seventh grade, she can hardly believe it. With her new hair extensions, clothes, and tan, Sierra has reached celebrity status. She even claims to have a boyfriend, Antonio, whom she met on vacation. Tori suspects that Sierra may be making him up, however, and she decides to invent a boyfriend for herself, sparking a competition between the girls as to who has the best (fake) relationship. Soon the lies begin to spiral out of control and Tori longs to have her old friend back. Springer writes in authentic tween language. The story takes place in a suburb of Chicago, but could easily be transported to any school in the United States. Tori is a well-rounded character, both likable and relatable. The themes will resonate with any girl who's ever gone through the hardships of middle school: friendship, boys, popularity, and, most importantly, choosing to do the right, but often more difficult, thing. A fun read.Kimberly Castle, Medina County District Library, OH
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Twelve-year-old Tori doesn’t understand why her longtime BFF Sienna blew her off while vacationing in Florida. And when Sienna shows up on the first day of seventh grade with a fabulous new look, a new long-distance boyfriend, Antonio, and newfound popularity at school, Tori feels even more bewildered. Then Tori begins to suspect that Antonio doesn’t exist, and to get back at Sienna, she invents her own fake boyfriend. Soon the girls are regaling their friends with stories of each boyfriend’s devotion, each gesture more romantic than the next. But having a fake boyfriend turns out to be hard work, from creating love letters to keeping the stories straight, and with a school dance approaching, Tori decides to come clean. Her difficult confession brings some surprising discoveries and new appreciation for what matters most in friendship. Tori is an appealing, engaging protagonist whose peppy first-person narrative includes some introspective moments and incorporates issues that readers will appreciate, especially the importance of honesty, trust, and self-appreciation. An enjoyable, entertaining read. Grades 5-8. --Shelle Rosenfeld
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It is a story about a girl whose best friend (and the best friend's family) recently came into some money. The friend (Sienna) returns from an extended vacation looking and acting much different....better...more popular. The herione in our story (Tori) is still liked by this girl, but feels her position possibly slipping. The friend discusses this "perfect" boyfriend she met, but Tori thinks it is all made-up. So Tori invents a fake boyfriend, too. If Sienna's boyfriend IMs with Sienna for a half an hour, then Tori's fake boyfriend is on for two. A one-upmanship battle that Tori wants to get out of, but doesn't want to lose face...or have her friend lose face either. Plus, their new-found popularity isn't all that terrible.
I won't give away the ending, but it is very sweet, enjoyable, light read that is quite appropriate for younger girls. I like that having the nicest clothes, shoes, friends, phone, boyfriend, etc. is acknowledged as being a big influence on kids, but tries to show that that stuff it isn't really the most important attribute of a person. I think most kids even know that, but those kinds of things do seem to make navigating junior high school simpler....and the author doesn't dismiss it (or the kids) as silly. I maybe would have liked a few more in-depth characters...especially a male (but not the typical long suffering friend character that the girl finally realizes is the real gem.) Still, it is a nice best-friend story.
This book is friggin' cute. When Tori's (newly rich) best friend, Sienna, comes back from her fabulous summer vacation with highlights, low lights, french-tipped nails, and a too-good-to-be-true long-distance boyfriend named Antonio, Tori misses the old Sea. The girl who was seriously shy and unabashedly dorky. Tori knows the boyfriend is a lie and, unsure of how to deal with her "new" old friend, she makes up a fake boyfriend of her own. Sebastian Colander, who's everything Antonio is and even more. As awesome as this premise is, the book is even awesomer. More awesome. Whatever. Tori, Sienna, and their new, popular friends are fully-fleshed out characters. For once the popular girls aren't mean or snobby -- just well-liked. And though Sienna's transformation is sudden and extensive, she doesn't turn into a snotty brat who forgets all about her best friend just because her family has some money now. Tori's (divorced) parents are also well-developed and the adorable relationship she shares with her father is definitely one of the best I've seen in a YA or MG book. He's actively involved in her life despite her not living with him. I get so used to (and sometimes bothered by) YA books where the protagonist is like so totally annoyed and embarrassed by her parents that it was refreshing to read a book where that wasn't the case. Tori's younger than the average YA protagonist and this is a middle grade novel, but even so, not all teenagers hate their parents.
The setting here, aside from one memorable scene, is fairly forgettable and non-important. And as much as I would have loved an incredibly vivid setting, it really didn't impact the book very much. More important is the plot, which turns in unexpected and wonderful ways as Tori's "boyfriend" becomes more and more impressive and Tori herself becomes more and more confused and lost next to her dazzling and transformed best friend. There's a great subplot here with two of the popular girls who suddenly befriend Tori and this is honestly one of the best parts of the book -- watching Tori's friendships apart from Sienna. My only real complaint here is that I wished the ending had a bit more to it and that everything wasn't tied up so neatly because I was left feeling like there should have been more.
All in all though, this is a great YA/MG book. (I believe they're "officially" calling it YA, but it's much more in the MG age range to me, so that's what I'm going with.) It's awesome and adorable without being cliche, fun and quirky without falling into predictable territory. A fast, fun, all-out awesome read.
The tone of the book, despite the 'fake boyfriend' confusion, is very positive - more so than most girls might find "IRL." For example, Tori's first venture into the company of the popular girls involves none of the difficulties (betrayal, gossip, nastiness and the like) which are especially common at that age. Both Tori and Sienna, despite their struggling problems with establishing a popular image, are accepted as they are - and I doubt too many teens would find this typical.
There is no great depth to the book. It does not explore friendship and conflict beyond the peripheral. Yet I believe young readers, in particular, would find this an enjoyable read.