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You and Me and Him
     

You and Me and Him

4.5 2
by Kris Dinnison
 

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“Do not ignore a call from me when you know I am feeling neurotic about a boy. That is Best Friend 101.” —Nash
        Maggie and Nash are outsiders. She’s overweight. He’s out of the closet. The best of friends, they have seen each other through thick and thin, but when Tom moves to town at the

Overview

“Do not ignore a call from me when you know I am feeling neurotic about a boy. That is Best Friend 101.” —Nash
        Maggie and Nash are outsiders. She’s overweight. He’s out of the closet. The best of friends, they have seen each other through thick and thin, but when Tom moves to town at the start of the school year, they have something unexpected in common: feelings for the same guy. This warm, witty novel—with a clear, true voice and a clever soundtrack of musical references—sings a song of love and forgiveness.


Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
05/04/2015
By junior year Maggie is resigned to being the overweight girl who will never be an A-lister. But she doesn’t dwell on it (“I don’t sit alone in my bedroom playing Billie Holiday albums while drowning my sorrows in a carton of ice cream. Okay, once—maybe twice—a year, but not every weekend” she says as the book opens), and she has a great job at a record store. She also has a faithful best friend in Nash, who shares her taste in “teachers, music, art, literature, and boys.” Conflicts emerge when “new guy” Tom enters the scene, making Maggie’s and Nash’s hearts flutter. Maggie wants to stay loyal to Nash, but is it too much of a sacrifice? In this compassionate first novel, Dinnison adeptly portrays the rising and falling hopes within an unconventional love triangle. Maggie suffers some tough blows, causing her to take a hard look at herself and question the stereotyped image of a “fat” girl created by other people. Readers will follow her eagerly as she finds her voice and identity. Ages 14–up. Agent: Kerry Sparks, Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency. (July)
From the Publisher

"The characters here are effectively nuanced, flawed but forgivable as they muddle through teenage conundrums of loyalty and love."
—Bulletin

"All of the protagonists . . .are pushed to ask themselves what expectations other people have of them and whether or not they have accepted these as their own. In the end, Maggie and the others become fully realized characters whose actions cannot be predicted by a YA lit algorithm."
—School Library Journal

"A powerful tale with an emotional rawness that will resonate with readers."
—Booklist

"Dinnison adeptly portrays the rising and falling hopes within an unconventional love triangle. . . . Readers will follow [Maggie] eagerly as she finds her voice and identity."
—Publishers Weekly

"Fans of realistic fiction featuring friendship, loyalty, and trust will enjoy this book."
—VOYA

"Firmly at the center stands a protagonist whose likable voice and authentic struggle to accept herself and find love in a world that would rather she shrink back—not to mention her crackling chemistry with Tom—lend this fresh, contemporary romantic comedy considerable appeal."
—Horn Book Magazine

 
VOYA, June 2015 (Vol. 38, No. 2) - Deena Viviani
In their small town outside Seattle, Maggie is grateful to have Nash as a best friend. He accepts her, overweight body and all, and in return she supports that he is out of the closet and secretly crushing on their male classmates. Then Tom, a guy who seems to be everything to everyone, moves into town, and Nash calls “dibs” on him before Maggie can utter hello. Without knowing whether Tom is into guys, girls, or both, Nash flirts with him hard. Tom, however, flirts with Maggie when they are alone, and she might like it. In the end, only some of these relationships can survive the drama, jealousy, and heartache of this reluctant love triangle. It is hard to believe that two high school students who are written as intelligently as Maggie and Nash would also be so immature as to follow the rules of calling “dibs” on Tom. Nash’s anger at Maggie for kissing Tom is also unfounded, especially since Tom later states he likes girls and was never attracted to Nash, which makes the reader question the functionality of their friendship. Nearly every scene with Maggie’s mother has her quipping about Maggie’s weight, which makes a point but also feels forced. Overall, this novel about friendship and self-acceptance has a strong narrator and justified ending, even if it is a rocky road to get there. Reviewer: Deena Viviani; Ages 12 to 18.
VOYA, June 2015 (Vol. 38, No. 2) - Maia Raynor
Maggie has always been known as the girl who eats her problems, but it does not matter what her small town thinks because she has her best friend, Nash. All is well until a new guy shows up and both friends find themselves falling for him. This coming-of-age story has unique characters and genuine friendships; however, the final chapters are a little tedious. Fans of realistic fiction featuring friendship, loyalty, and trust will enjoy this book. Reviewer: Maia Raynor, Teen Reviewer; Ages 12 to 18.
Children's Literature - Amy McLaughlin
In the small town of Cedar Ridge, Washington there are limited dating possibilities, especially for quirky, not-so-skinny Maggie and her gay best friend, Nash. So when they befriend the new student, Tom, they must soon learn how to navigate an overlapping crush. To avoid conflict Maggie agrees to take a step back and put aside her feelings for the sake of her best friend. But to Maggie’s disbelief, she becomes the object of Tom’s affection which leads to a blossoming relationship leaving Maggie stuck between the guy of her dreams and her best friend. In order to make things right she must overcome harsh standards from her mother, a vengeful gym teacher, an ex-friend and most importantly, her own views of herself. The author brings us a coming-of-age story with a few twists along the way. A broad and unique scope of topics is covered including body image issues, sexuality, and depression. This would make an excellent book for teenage students and can open up many opportunities for self-reflection. Although not excessive, teachers/parents should note a few uses of profane words. Maggie’s struggle to find her strength is a message that would speak to many young adults, especially young women. Reviewer: Amy McLaughlin; Ages 13 up.
School Library Journal
04/01/2015
Gr 8 Up—At first glance this debut novel rehashes many of the archetypes common in young adult literature. Even its protagonist, Maggie, self-reflexively references these clichés. She, for example, is "[t]he fat kid who bakes. So cliché." She works at a cool but underused record store where she blasts songs by The Smiths. Her best friend Nash is not only gay but also fashion conscious and sassy. Both are misfits in their Pacific Northwestern small town. But You and Me and Him contains kernels of complexity that are slowly revealed to readers willing to wade in. There is an unrequited love triangle (Nash likes Tom, Tom possibly likes Maggie, Maggie likes Tom but is scared to lose Nash), and each character's expectations come into play in various aspects of the narrative. All of the protagonists, but especially Maggie, are pushed to ask themselves what expectations other people have of them and whether or not they have accepted these as their own. In the end, Maggie and the others become fully realized characters whose actions cannot be predicted by a YA lit algorithm. You and Me and Him is similar to other books that balance self-reflection with comic relief, such as James Howe's The Misfits (S. & S., 2001) and Robin Brande's Fat Cat (Knopf, 2009). VERDICT A solid addition, especially for readers looking for a bittersweet romance.—Jaclyn Anderson, Madison County Library System, MS
Kirkus Reviews
2015-04-01
The arrival of crushworthy new student Tom drives a wedge between Maggie, who is straight, and her best friend, Nash, who is gay. Neither Maggie nor Nash has ever kissed anyone or had a boyfriend, a situation Maggie attributes to her being fat and Nash, to the lack of out gay teens in their Seattle suburb. On the first day of school, the pair spots Tom, and Nash calls dibs, a running joke based on the assumption that neither Nash nor Maggie will have a chance. When Tom unexpectedly does start hanging out with them, particularly with Maggie, both Maggie's friendship with Nash and her certainty that she is undesirable are challenged. Maggie's generosity with baked goods and her struggles against her mom's food-related nagging add some depth to the story, but readers are privy to frustratingly little interiority despite the first-person narration. They see Maggie have her first kiss and tell off the gym teacher who continually harps on her size, but her experiences of these moments remain opaque. Stilted and sometimes clunkily expository dialogue also reveals little, making several of the book's many interpersonal conflicts more confusing than compelling. The (mostly) fat-positive message is important, but its delivery falters. (Fiction. 12-18)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780544671751
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
07/12/2016
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
278,310
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

Read an Excerpt


Chapter 1
 
Let’s get one thing straight from the very beginning: I am not one of those shrinking-violet fat girls. I don’t sit alone in my bedroom playing Billie Holiday albums while drowning my sorrows in a carton of ice cream. Okay, once—maybe twice—a year, but not every weekend. I have friends, a great job in a vintage record store, and even some minor social status. But I am an overweight teenage girl going to an American high school. It doesn’t take a clairvoyant to figure out there are going to be some issues.
 
The current issue: Which outfit will maximize the four and half pounds I lost this summer and minimize the remaining flesh? As usual, my mom’s annual summer diet plan for me didn’t result in any magical transformations, so for the debut of my junior year, I decide on my flowy hippie-chick skirt and a black T-shirt with sleeves too long for the heat of early September. I don’t love this outfit. But it fits, kind of. And it’s not hideous. Most of the clothes in my size look like they were designed for retirees in Miami Beach, Florida. I do not like my shirts bedazzled in any way. Someone in the plus-size fashion industry thinks if you put shiny stuff on a T-shirt, no one will notice the size of the person underneath. This particular first-day outfit is nothing tragic, but it’s more of a fashion whisper than a fashion statement.
 
I climb on the bus and make a beeline for Nash.
 
“Maggie.” He gives me a slight wave, then covers it by smoothing down his rockabilly sideburns. (He grooms them, no lie, with mustache wax.) I slide into the seat beside him. Nash shifts upward as the seat sags in my direction.
 
“Move your skinny ass over,” I say.
 
“Like my skinny ass has a choice?” He moves. “Nice skirt.” Nash squinches up his face like something smells bad.
 
I sigh. Nash is all about edgy, and my sixties Woodstock wear does not scream edgy. I feel a trickle of sweat drip down between my shoulder blades.
 
“Nice hair,” I say.
 
Nash pats his shellacked do, making sure it has kept its height through the bus ride. Finding all the follicles in place, he turns his attention to me. He fishes a peppermint lip balm out of his pocket and hands it over. He then picks three or four of my long, brown hairs off my shirt. Nash always grooms me like some fastidious chimpanzee mother. Finally, he straightens the silver charm on its chain around my neck. The charm was Nash’s gift to me on the first day of high school. It’s this cool spiral; he says it’s to remind me that he’s got my back. Always. I pretty much never take the thing off.
 
“Thanks,” I say when he’s done making me presentable.
 
Nash holds out his hand. “Did you bring the goods?”
 
I dig in my bag and pull out a Ziploc baggie. Inside is one of my signature breakfast bars, tailored especially for Nash: cashews, chunky peanut butter, oats, cinnamon, dried cherries, and a few dark chocolate chips. I know. Shocking, right? A fat girl who bakes. So cliché. But I started making these bars for Nash a few years back when his dad left and things went to shit at his house. He was living on ramen noodles and cold cereal, so now the bars are part of our morning routine.
 
I wave the baggie over my head, keeping his breakfast just out of reach. “Who loves you, baby?”
 
He snatches the bag from my hand and pinches off a corner of the bar, popping it in his mouth. “Mmmmmm.” His mouth is full. “What’s different?”
 
“A little cardamom. Fewer cherries. It was too sweet.”
 
“Well done, Mags.”
 
I wait as he chews, looking out the window at the rows of identical cedar split-levels lining the streets. It’s a decent neighborhood, but it’s in between: not new, but not old enough or cool enough to be vintage, either.
 
As soon as he finishes breakfast, Nash glances around to see if anyone is listening and leans in close. “Check out the hottie in row two.”
 
I tilt my head up above the back of the seats and catch a glimpse of tousled, longish brown hair in the left-hand seat. Ducking back down, I ask, “Who is it?” without letting my lips move.
 
Nash shrugs, and we fan ourselves with our hands. Nash and I have the same taste in almost everything: teachers, music, art, literature, and boys. The good news is we can mock anyone who doesn’t share our aesthetic. The bad news is we have to lay claim to guys we both crush on. There just aren’t that many crush-worthy possibilities in Cedar Ridge.
 
“Dibs!” we say at the same time.
 
Nash narrows his eyes at me. We’ve been doing the dibs thing since elementary school, but we didn’t start using it on boys until seventh grade. It’s kind of a running joke with us, this idea that we can have a guy just by claiming him. Never once have any of the crushes reciprocated, but the ritual allows the one with dibs to discuss the object of his or her affection as if romance was a realistic possibility.
 
“Okay.” I hold my hands up against Nash’s world-famous death stare. “You can have him.” Not a big deal. I’m long past believing in the fairy tale of the handsome stranger who sees past my not-quite-modelesque figure to discover the fabulous Maggie within. After all, that would be some headline: “fat girl snags new guy.” I gaze out the window as the bus turns the corner and rolls along the lakefront. The evergreens still cast long shadows a good distance into the lake from the shore. But starting about thirty feet out, the water glitters with early morning sunlight. I steal another glance at the new guy and cross my fingers that Nash has an actual chance with this one.
 
When the bus rolls to a stop in the parking lot, we descend into the bustling fray. The kids who drive start streaming in from student parking. I link arms with Nash and move in their direction, hoping to blend into the stream and avoid the shame of being bussies. But Nash stops short, which yanks me to a stop. I look up and see New Guy. He’s a little taller than Nash, with sandy brown hair, tan, freckled skin, and these grass-green eyes casting around for something to hold on to. Nash steers us in his direction, and we come to a halt right in front of him.
 
“Hi,” Nash says. “You lost?”
 
The New Guy just looks at Nash.
 
“Nash Taylor.” He hooks his thumb in my direction. “Maggie Bower. Welcome to Cedar Ridge,” he adds, releasing my arm and giving a little bow. “This way.” Nash sweeps his arm in front of him, ushering New Guy in the direction of the main building. They start to move off, leaving me alone, the current of students flowing around me.
 
I’m not sure if I should follow, but as Nash chats up the New Guy, he gives a surreptitious head jerk, the universal sign for “get your ass up here.” New Guy doesn’t seem bothered by Nash’s bossiness or by Nash leading him around. That fact alone is surprising. Maybe this one will break our losing streak.

Meet the Author


Kris Dinnison learned to read when she was five years old. She grew up reading books nobody else had read and listening to music nobody else had heard of and thinking she was weird, which she kind of was. She spent nearly two decades as a teacher and librarian working with students from kindergarten to graduate school. The bulk of that time she spent teaching High School English while dreaming of becoming a writer. Now she lives and writes in Spokane, Washington. Visit her website at www.krisdinnison.net.

 

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You and Me and Him 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
MaryCF More than 1 year ago
This novel has an intriguing and unusual plot. A guy and a girl who both have a crush on the "new guy" at school. What I like best about the book is the main character, Maggie. She is trying hard to be true to herself and loyal to her best friend Nash. But as in life, things are not always so clear cut. She doesn't make the best decisions, always, but grows and in time has the courage to see herself more clearly, even if it's painful.
DownrightDystopian More than 1 year ago
The second that I heard about You and Me and Him, I knew that it was a book I wanted to check out. First of all, it was about two best friends who had been together for a while and always had each others backs, but it was also about what happens when two best friends happen to like the same guy, which I found to be really intriguing! Maggie and Nash aren't part of the popular crowd, but they've always had each other. When they meet a new guy on the bus named Tom, Nash calls dibs, which means that he's Nash's for the taking and only Nash gets to fawn over him. Maggie is okay with this, until Tom starts spending a lot of time with just Maggie since Nash has to keep bailing out due to family reasons. I really want to explain more but I feel like if I do, I'll include too many spoilers! I feel like that's all that you really need to know. Maggie and Nash were the absolute best. Maggie was overweight and many people made fun of her for it and made her feel bad about it, including her gym teacher and her own mother. I felt extremely bad for her because of that, because she was such a sweet person. Maggie was really into baking as well, which I loved since I enjoy baking too. Her specialty was cookies, since it's what her grandmother used to make too. Nash was my favorite character I think. He was always there for Maggie whenever she needed him, though sometimes he was a bit too angsty, but I still loved him. I felt horrible for Cece, who had a crush on Nash, because she knew that she wouldn't ever get a chance to be with him, yet she pined over him anyway. Tom was a likable character for the most part as well. I love how much he adored the outdoors and going on hikes. He was also really into the record shop that Maggie worked at, which I found to be super cool. You and Me and Him captured so much of the high school experience, from dating to rivalries to friendships, and that's what made it a new favorite! Plus, the characters were so entirely lovable and I know that I will never forget them. I'll definitely keep my eyes out for more books written by Kate in the future, but in the meantime, I'll be recommending this book to everyone!