A preteen deals with numerous changes in Wittlinger's sleepy middle-grade novel. Twelve-year-old Maisie loves classic Hollywood cinema with a passion. The only other people who love movies as much as she does are her best friend and neighbor, Cyrus, her actor uncle, Walt, and elderly Mr. Schmitz, the crotchety owner of the local movie theater. When Uncle Walt injures himself on set and moves in with Maisie's family for the duration of his recovery, tensions at home run high. But that's not all. Her grandmother is becoming dangerously forgetful while simultaneously rekindling an old romance with Mr. Schmitz. Her mother is laid off, and money becomes tight for their white, lower-middle-class family. Her friendship with Cyrus grows confusing as their classmate Gary worms his way into their circle. It seems closeted Cyrus has a crush on Gary, while Gary has a crush on Maisie, and Maisie isn't sure she's ready for any of them to be having crushes at all. Wittlinger's narrative feels painfully out of touch: these kids have landline phone conversations; Maisie's film references are overwhelmingly white. A handful of contemporary references (Inside Out, Kate McKinnon, among others) feel forced and land the book somewhere between the intentional nostalgia of The Penderwicks and a real embrace of present-day preteendom, never fully settling on a rhythm that feels right. Maisie's small Illinois town is a largely white one. A bland jumble. (Fiction. 8-12)
Twelve-year-old film buff Maisie's weekly routine of seeing movies with her friend Cyrus is disrupted when Gary joins in. Maisie may not feel ready for dating or anything like it, but Gary has an evident crush on her, Cyrus has a secret crush on Gary, and suddenly everything's complicated. Meanwhile, her grandmother is showing signs of dementia, and her sympathetic but flighty uncle is staying with the family while he recovers from an injury—all of which fuels conflicts about family duty. Distinctive characterization is a significant strength here, and Maisie's response to Cyrus's coming-out is all her own—she's upset at first not for conventional reasons but because of her fear of change and maybe, just maybe, because of her own feelings for Gary. A late-in-life romance for Grandma makes the family story line lighter than it otherwise might be, but the novel acknowledges that, like the many films it references, its story ends at "a good stopping point," which doesn't mean everything's perfect. Tweens who are wondering what their relationships, and their romantic relationships, will look like as they grow up should find plenty to think about in this honest novel.
—The Horn Book
Twelve-year-old Maisie loves seeing old movies at the local theater with her best friend Cy, and she worships her Uncle Walt, who is in Hollywood trying to make it as an actor. When Walt injures himself on set and comes to stay with Maisie’s family, she’s overjoyed to have him visit. Less excited is Maisie’s mother, who feels that Walt has abandoned his family responsibilities, especially after Maisie’s grandmother starts displaying signs of memory loss. Worried about her grandmother, Maisie is also grappling with the fact that Gary, a classmate with a crush on her, has started horning in on her time with Cy. When Cy reveals that he “like likes” Gary, Maisie tries to figure out how it will affect their relationship and her own changing feelings for Gary. Wittlinger (Local Girl Swept Away) packs this sensitive coming-of-age story with movie references and trivia, but even readers less cinema obsessed than Maisie will sympathize with her conflicting desires to grow up and stay young forever. Her loyalty to Cy is especially moving, as is Wittlinger’s portrait of dementia’s impact.
Maisie, 12, is in the midst of several quandaries. She and her best friend, Cy, have become a trio, and Maisie is afraid that new addition Gary Hackett likes her. Then it becomes clear that Cy likes Gary. Ménage à trouble! In addition, Maisie’s actor uncle has moved back to their small house to recover from an accident, her grandmother is showing signs of dementia, and her mother loses her job. Tensions boil, but Maisie finds relief at the old movie theater in town, where she and Cy are regulars. The theater is owned by grumpy Mr. Schmitz, who has had his own decades-long crush—on Maisie’s grandmother. If this sounds like a full plate, it is, but each morsel is quite tasty, and veteran writer Wittlinger balances plots with aplomb. Some scenarios are more rosy than realistic, as in the cases of Cy’s coming out to an unruffled Gary. Yet it is the novel’s hopeful aspects that make this such an enjoyable read. Happily, all the (many) movies referenced throughout are listed at the book’s conclusion.
For twelve-year-old Maisie, watching old movies at the Lincoln Theater every Saturday with her best friend Cyrus provides a much-needed escape from the uncertainties she faces in real life. Her grandmother’s increasing forgetfulness and her family’s tight financial situation mean everyone but Maisie is less than thrilled when Uncle Walk — who is an actor in Hollywood — comes to stay after a recent on-set injury. Since Uncle Walt is one of the few adults who always understands her, Maisie is delighted, and when she finds herself in the center of a middle-school love triangle between herself, Cyrus, and their new friend, Gary, she needs Uncle Walt’s guidance more than ever. The book provides entertaining yet affecting portrayals of the different types of young love people experience and witness — from love between family members and friends to budding romantic love to even love found late in life, which Maisie witnesses through her grandmother’s unexpected reconnection with an old flame. The Use of first-person narration adds authenticity to Maisie’s perspective as readers gain insight into her inner thinking and responses to pivotal life situations (e.g. when Cyrus tells Maisie that he is gay and that he likes Gary). Wittlinger presents a moving coming-of-age story that will feel relevant to tween readers, particularly those wrestling with the notion of what it means to grow up and what it means to experience and witness love in its many forms.
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books