From the Publisher
“The story is by turns touching and laugh-out-loud funny, and readers will appreciate the time they spend with Joylin, her family, and her friends as they live, grow, and learn as individuals and together.” SLJ, starred review, on Planet Middle School
“[Grimes'] accessible verse and clear themes of self-acceptance and open-mindedness ring true. A work that should help adolescent readers find the courage and humor to grow into the individuals they already are.” Kirkus Reviews, on Planet Middle School
“[Grimes'] realistic novel has solid middle-school appeal and avoids preaching.” Horn Book Magazine, on Planet Middle School
A young tomboy comes of age on and off the basketball court.
In free-flowing free-verse poems, multi–award-winning author and poet Grimes (A Girl Named Mister, 2010, etc.) here explores the riot of hormones and expected gender roles that can make negotiating the preteen years such a challenge. Twelve-year-old Joylin "Jockette" Johnson prefers jeans, T-shirts and one-on-one basketball games with her father or friend Jake to conforming to the more demure, feminine image her mother has of her. Sassy, self-assured Joy enjoys the simple math of her life—"friends / plus family / plus sports"—until she begins to notice "two weird mounds ruining / the perfect flatness / of [her] chest" and gets her first period, which she deems, "the end of life / as I know it." Beset by physical changes, Joy also finds herself witness and prey to unfamiliar behavior; Jake begins to show interest in her friend KeeLee, and Joy herself tries to adopt a more feminine persona to attract the attention of Santiago, a fellow basketballer with "sweet brown curls / bouncing above killer green eyes." Though Grimes' plot development is rather predictable—a life-threatening accident leads Joy to reassess her priorities—her accessible verse and clear themes of self-acceptance and open-mindedness ring true.
A work that should help adolescent readers find the courage and humor to grow into the individuals they already are. (Verse fiction. 9-14)