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The Swift Boys & Me

The Swift Boys & Me

4.3 8
by Kody Keplinger

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The lyrical and moving middle-grade debut from YA author Kody Keplinger!

Eleven-year-old Nola Sutton has been best friends and neighbors with the Swift boys for practically her whole life. There's the youngest, Kevin, who never stops talking; the oldest, Brian, who's always kind and calm; and then there's Canaan, the ringleader and Nola's


The lyrical and moving middle-grade debut from YA author Kody Keplinger!

Eleven-year-old Nola Sutton has been best friends and neighbors with the Swift boys for practically her whole life. There's the youngest, Kevin, who never stops talking; the oldest, Brian, who's always kind and calm; and then there's Canaan, the ringleader and Nola's best-best friend. Together, they have a summer of fun adventures planned.

But then everything changes overnight.

When the boys' dad leaves without even saying good-bye, it completely destroys the Swift family, and all Nola can do is watch. She tries to hold on to them, but they are changing. Kevin stops talking, Canaan starts hanging out with mean boys, and Brian is never around. Nola just wants things to go back to the way they were -- the way they've always been.

Is Nola strong enough to save the Swift boys from themselves, or has she lost them forever?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
“All three of the Swift boys were my best friends, but Canaan was my best-best friend,” is how 12-year-old Nola Sutton describes the boys whose family lives in the other half of her duplex. Between chapters, Nola shares memories of her close friendships with Canaan, which verges on romance, as well as with brothers Brian and Kevin. After Mr. Swift walks out on the family, oldest brother Brian is overwhelmed by trying to keep things running smoothly, motormouth third-grader Kevin stops speaking entirely, and Canaan grows angry, driving a wedge between him and Nola. Meanwhile, Nola’s family is also undergoing change, and she reluctantly begins to make new friends and decides to search for Mr. Swift herself. YA author Keplinger’s (A Midsummer’s Nightmare) novel, her first for middle-graders, is driven by themes of betrayal, loss, friendship, and the need for self-reliance when friends and family fall short. The small-town Kentucky setting, unfolding events, and emotional interactions between characters young and old all play their parts in establishing the story’s solid sense of realism. Ages 8–12. Agent: Joanna Volpe, New Leaf Literary & Media. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
Nola has been best friends her entire life with her next-door neighbors, the three Swift brothers. Now, in response to their father's desertion, the brothers have changed. Brian, older than Nola, Kevin, a fair bit younger, and Canaan, just her age and her "best-best friend," have seemed like the most perfect of buddies till now. After their father abruptly leaves, Brian soldiers on, filling in for his depressed mother, before he too is overwhelmed. Kevin, always a chatterbox, becomes mute, and worse, angry Canaan is now hanging around with the neighborhood bullies, adopting their brutal ways and even betraying Nola. Determined to help, Nola hatches a childish plan to find Mr. Swift and convince him to return home. Interweaving Nola's memories—scenes from happier times are italicized to distinguish them from the present-day narrative—Keplinger skillfully creates a depth to these friendships that have defined Nola's childhood. These scenes go beyond providing the background for their complex relationships, especially with Canaan; they also begin to offer Nola some insight into why the brothers have changed so dramatically. Everything else is changing as well, as Nola faces the transition to middle school, her mother plans remarriage, and a move is envisioned. Realistically, there's no easy solution; the conclusion doesn't sugarcoat the pangs of growing up. A fine, honest and heartfelt coming-of-age tale. (Fiction. 10-14)
Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
Nola Sutton and her mother live in one half of a duplex; the Swift boys and their parents live in the other. Nola has always been friends with the Brian (older), Kevin (younger), Canaan, her classmate and best friend. They have been practically joined at the hip for years and are determined to make this the best summer ever. The circus is coming back to town after a five-year hiatus, and Nola and Canaan have a plan to earn enough money through odd jobs to buy tickets for all of the children to go. Summer has only just begun when their plans are shattered. Mr. Swift drives away one night, without even saying goodbye to his sons. With their mother alternating between sleep and work, Brian tries to mind the house and his brothers. Kevin stops talking altogether. Canaan rejects Nola’s friendship and takes up with a pair of neighborhood thugs. Left on her own, Nola works the odd jobs they have lined up and spends time with a couple of other neighborhood friends, while reflecting on her friendship with the boys over the years. Although not the summer she had planned, it is a big summer for Nola, as her mom and longtime boyfriend become engaged, marry, and buy a house. Keplinger’s book is a heartfelt exploration of the nature of friendship, pain, and healing. Nola is a likeable character and we thrill to see her growing strength over the course of the season. However, this reviewer did feel uncomfortable about a blasé take on one character’s food allergies. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green; Ages 8 to 12.
School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—Nola Sutton was looking forward to spending the summer after sixth grade doing odd jobs and having fun with her best friend, Canaan Swift. But when Canaan's dad abruptly leaves his family, Canaan becomes first distant, and then downright hostile, forcing a hurt Nola to make other plans. She strengthens a casual friendship, makes a new friend, and gets to know her cranky grandmother a little better—and begins to accept that some things must change, for better or for worse. Copious flashbacks, demonstrating what a great friend Canaan has always been, slow what little forward momentum the plot has and make the boy's total personality change—from super friend to dog-tormenting bully—seem even more perplexing. Nola's attempt to track down Mr. Swift's whereabouts strains credulity and adds nothing to the plot; also unconvincing is much of the dialogue, though it does a good job of getting across a flavor of the Kentucky setting. Barbara O'Connor's books are a better bet for stories of friendship with a Southern accent.—Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
610L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Kody Keplinger was born and raised in rural western Kentucky. She always enjoyed writing and began working on “novels” when she was eleven. She wrote her first published young adult work, The DUFF, during her senior year of high school. Since then, she has written Shut Out and A Midsummer's Nightmare, as well as the forthcoming title Goldfish. Kody currently lives in New York City and writes full time.

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The Swift Boys & Me 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
book4children More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book. Nola is a sweet girl who can't understand why her best friends, the three Swift boys, are acting so different after their father leaves. Canaan especially breaks her heart when he starts hanging out with some sketchy neighborhood boys and starts picking on her. This is a story about growing up. It's about change, finding happiness, the end of some relationships, and the beginning of others. It's about dealing with challenges and making new friends. I liked the way Nola grew and changed over the course of the book. She learns the difficult lesson that people can let us down and relationships are fragile things. With simple and elegant writing, The Swift Boys and Me is a heartfelt middle grade book that will appeal to kids ages 8-12. Content: Clean Source: I received a digital galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so amazing that I didn't want the book to end! Nola is just like me but a little different. I really suggest reading this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I live this book and i have the paper one too and this one
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Omg thats a maze .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read it ok book and so sad to leave your home town you grew up in your hole life just becaus your mom got a husband.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My teacher had it in her offce so i read it