...readers will see the happy ending coming from clear across the court. Hicks does, however, craft in Nick a most credible preteen, a basically good kid who’s not above sneaking a cigarette to get the guys off his case, and who instantly knows that, in calling his new sibling “Moron,” he’s gone too far. Readers will applaud Nick’s inevitable awakening—almost as loudly as Dwayne’s newly scuffed shoes and dangling shirttails.
School Library Journal
Nick has typical middle-school worries—his appearance, how to talk to girls, making the team, and peer pressure. As if that’s not enough, add a clueless clad, a new stepmother with far-out ideas about just about everything (especially diet), and her geeky eight-year-old son, Dwayne, and you have all the ingredients for a funny and appealing story. . . . Hicks has created a fast-paced, tightly constructed narrative that weaves together basketball, Arthurian lore, blended families, and adolescent angst.
Without compromising the underlying theme of a child’s grief and difficult adjustment to a blended family, Hick’s adds some fresh, funny touches to the story. . . Her kids are skillfully characterized, as well: Nick—sometimes a brat, but at heart a good kid—is right out of life, and readers will feel a twinge of sorrow for vulnerable Dwayne, who tries his best but just can’t seem to get anything right. A well-accomplished combination of sports and family concerns
Eleven-year-old Nick has to go to school smelling like the cloves his new stepmother puts into the shampoo, and that’s just the beginning in this humorous yet true-to-life portrayal of family blending and six-grade angst. . . . First-novelist Hicks gives Dwayne, Miriam, and Dad enough dimension to avoid creating familiar stereotypes of the pesky baby brother, evil stepmother, and out-of-touch Dad, which is refreshing.
Although the premise sounds a bit like a sitcom a sixth-grader with dreams of basketball glory learns to come to terms with his new blended family Hicks's first novel is both humorous and heartfelt. Nick Kimble is anything but thrilled when his widowed father remarries, especially when it means gaining a new stepbrother, a chess-playing third-grade geek named Dwayne (whom Nick promptly dubs "Duh-Wayne"). Hicks handily juggles this knotty development with several other plotlines, including Nick's struggle to make the cut for the basketball team and navigate the shoals of peer pressure. In the end, Nick's nobler inclinations win out: when Dwayne runs away and Nick searches for him, Nick realizes that he's not the only one struggling to find his place in the new family structure. Hicks serves up snappy dialogue and plenty of laughs (including the title, which refers to some clove shampoo Nick's organic-loving stepmother buys for him). In describing one of his stepmother's meals, for instance, Nick notes, "We had a giant fungus on a bun that she said was a porta-something mushroom burger. Porta-potty stuck in my mind, but that wasn't it." Overall, this is a pleasing family tale in which the underlying tone of sweetness never slips into sap.