On the Count of Three by Maureen Johnson, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
On the Count of Three

On the Count of Three

5.0 1
by Maureen Johnson

Since coming together at the age of eleven, Nina, Avery and Mel have never been apart. The summer before senior year, however, Nina goes away to a summer program in California. When she returns, she expects to be welcomed back into her friends’ arms with great excitement. Instead, something has changed in the Triangle—Mel and Avery are acting strangely.


Since coming together at the age of eleven, Nina, Avery and Mel have never been apart. The summer before senior year, however, Nina goes away to a summer program in California. When she returns, she expects to be welcomed back into her friends’ arms with great excitement. Instead, something has changed in the Triangle—Mel and Avery are acting strangely. There are in-jokes Nina doesn’t get, pauses in the conversations that seem to be full of some meaning that she just can’t grasp. She’s suddenly an outsider, and she has no idea why.

Until she wanders into a dressing room and finds Mel and Avery kissing. What exactly do you do when your two best friends in the entire world start dating?


Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this saga of three best girlfriends in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Nina returns from a summer program at Stanford to discover her friends Avery and Mel kissing in a store dressing room. "The novel becomes more credible as it unfolds," wrote PW. Ages 14-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Avery, Melanie, and Nina have been best friends forever. When Nina goes away for a summer program at Stanford, the friendship dynamic changes drastically. Nina begins seeing a boy she meets at the summer program while Avery and Melanie also begin seeing someone: each other. Avery and Melanie decide not to tell anyone, but Nina discovers them kissing. When she asks for clarification of their relationship, Avery gets cold feet. Is she really gay like Melanie seems to be? While Avery and Melanie try to figure out their relationship and friendship, Nina struggles with a long-distance boyfriend who becomes less and less communicative as time goes on. This honest look at friendship, heterosexual relationships, and homosexual relationships is touching, funny, and poignant. All three girls are very sympathetic yet realistic in their flaws. As the reader follows Nina, Avery, and Melanie through almost a year of their lives, they will gain a greater understanding of the fragile bonds that friends and lovers share. 2004, Razor Bill, Ages 12 up.
—Amie Rose Rotruck
Children's Literature - Allyson Drysdale
Nina Bermudez from upstate New York has earned the chance to attend a summer program at Stanford the summer before her senior year in high school. As she leaves her best friends, Avery and Melanie, behind, she never imagines that upon her return, the two girls will be dating. While Nina finds her first love during her summer program, her two best friends are exploring their sexuality with each other. Nina returns weeks later, leaving her new boyfriend, Steven, on the West Coast, and discovers that she is no longer part of the "triangle" that the three girls had formed years ago. When Avery cheats on Melanie with a boy, Nina must help her pick up the pieces. Nina, however, has her own relationship problems with her new boyfriend. As the three girls struggle to identify their sexuality, each comes to a different realization about herself and about each other. While Johnson wrote this book for young adults, it lacks literary value. Though the book relates a coming-of-age story, the narrative is fluff at best. Some readers who feel confused about their sexuality might find comfort in this book, but because many of the characters are poorly developed, engage in stiff dialogue, and display overblown emotions, readers may have trouble connecting with them. I would recommend this book only for someone who is looking for a casual read and can also overlook the book's weaknesses.
This novel follows Nina, Mel, and Avery, close friends in upstate New York, from the end of their junior year through their final year of high school. The girls have always been together, and biracial Nina's leaving for the summer is a major change. Although Mel and Avery must work at a restaurant, Nina can afford to attend a pre-college leadership course. Nina's Stanford roommate is weird, but she meets an environmentalist boy from Oregon who becomes special in her life. Meanwhile Mel and Avery fall into a lesbian relationship that feels fine to Mel but is not as comfortable for Avery. By Nina's September return, the others still have not mentioned their involvement, so she is surprised to discover them kissing and realizes the nature of the friendship triangle has drastically changed. The ups, downs, and confusions of senior year are portrayed, and Parker, another senior from the restaurant, is introduced into the mix. The two parties that the girls attend are awash in alcohol, and although only one of them gets thoroughly drunk at each party, drinking to excess is a goal. No sex appears. Johnson accurately and effectively interweaves characters of various classes, backgrounds, values, and dreams, credibly mixing them with empathy and care. Intolerance has a place, but overall the girls and Parker find a wealth of understanding for one another. Although slow to start, the story is engaging by the third chapter and will interest girls interested in dating, relationships, and sexuality and boys who wish to know them better. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P M J S (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9;Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, Razorbill/Penguin, 368p., Ages 11 to 18.
—Cynthia Winfield
Nina, Avery, and Mel have been inseparable for years. However, when Nina leaves for summer camp, a secret emerges that shakes the foundation of that friendship: Avery and Mel are in love with one another. When Nina returns, nothing is the same. She feels alienated and struggles to accept the life her friends have chosen; meanwhile, her friends now avoid her to be alone with one another. Avery and Mel are unable to keep their relationship a secret; rumors circulate throughout school. Embarrassed, Avery begins to doubt her newly discovered homosexuality. To figure out what she feels and who she is, she breaks off her relationship with Mel, seeking comfort in the arms of a man. Left alone, Mel turns to Nina for comfort. Bermudez Triangle is an excellent portrayal of the realistic struggles associated with homosexuality. Since it does contain scenes with the two lovers, I would not recommend it for middle school or younger high school students. 2004, Razor Bill, 370 pp., Ages young adult.
—Esther Myers
The protagonists of Maureen Johnson's novel are high school seniors dealing with relationships and planning on their futures. Mel, Avery and Nina have been friends since childhood, but the summer before their senior year they deal with the first of inevitable separations. The novel follows them through their senior year, through e-mail relationships, college applications and harassment. Various trials and tribulations of young love are explored as college camp lovers Nina and Steve go home from their summer together to live on opposite coasts and yet hold onto their dream of being together at Stanford. Their story is told through the e-mails and phone calls that make up their long-distance relationship. Nina returns to school as student council president and discovers a changed relationship with Mel and Avery. The two of them have begun a homosexual romance, which for all the usual reasons they have to keep to themselves. For Mel the romance is a realization of her real identity, but for Avery it is a confusion of warmth and physical attraction that puts them into the rumor mill of the small New York town. New to their friendship is Parker, a funny, supportive young man who provides a listening ear and platonic shoulder for each girl at different points during their senior year. By the end, little is definitively resolved, though each girl, as well as Parker, moves forward in understanding who they are to each other and what their friendship means. KLIATT Codes: S—Recommended for senior high school students. 2004, Penguin, Razor Bill, 368p., Ages 15 to 18.
—Janis Flint-Ferguson
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Johnson begins this exceptional novel in a lightweight fashion but quickly segues into more serious issues that affect the three young women who make up the Bermudez Triangle. It is the summer before their senior year in Saratoga Springs, NY. At first, organized, serious Nina has trouble adjusting to her leadership workshop at Stanford University. Although she desperately misses Avery and Mel, who are waitresses at a restaurant back home, she quickly falls head over heels for eco-warrior Steve, who has grown up in a commune on the West Coast-so different from Nina's secure middle-class experience. When she returns to New York, she immediately senses that Mel and Avery are keeping secrets and soon discovers that they have become lovers. Rocked to the core, Nina wishes them happiness, but feels excluded and lonely, especially as her long-distance relationship begins to deteriorate. As is typical for teens, the girls obsess ad nauseam over their romantic relationships. Yet this narrow focus lends authenticity to the narrative, and readers become drawn into the characters' lives as they stumble toward adulthood, fall in and out of love, enlarge their circle of friends, and rethink their values. As the story deepens, Johnson does a superb job of subtly developing individual personalities for each one. Although all ends well, it's a long, hard struggle, one that perceptively reflects the real-life ambiguities and shades of gray faced by contemporary adolescents.-Susan Riley, Mount Kisco Public Library, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Warm, humorous, and smoothly readable story of three girls who've been friends forever. Nina, Avery, and Mel are the "Bermudez Triangle" (Bermudez being Nina's last name). The summer before senior year of high school, Mel and Avery become a couple. Mel identifies as a lesbian, while Avery refuses to pick any label. The path of their relationship-from friends, to swooning girlfriends, to enemies, back to friends-involves Nina, too, and also their new friend Parker. Meanwhile Nina has an up-and-down, long-distance romance with an environmentalist, while Parker goes from unattainable crush to unattainable crush. Johnson writes Avery's slight punkiness, Mel's sweetness, and Nina's burning drive to achieve with sympathy and color. Class issues come up sometimes, race almost never (despite Nina being interracial while everyone else is white). Sprinkled-in pop-culture references range from spot-on to easily dated, but the characterizations of love-different kinds-are tender even when painful. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Maureen Johnson is the author of many young adult novels. Visit her at www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com or on twitter: @maureenjohnson

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >