I suppose that’s appropriate considering the nature of the story, for Jess only has his girlfriend Leslie for a portion of 5th grade, and if I tell you that their friendship ends in tragedy you could probably guess a lot of what happens.
But what actually happens is not as important as how this affects Jess; for the real story is not so much about who lives and who dies, or why or how, but about one boy’s good heart and how a brief, bittersweet friendship teaches him to find courage and beauty and goodness and the strength to be his own person in spite of an invisible father, a despicable mother, two bitchy older sisters, and two annoying younger ones. Basically, Jess learns to be a man on his own terms, thanks to the gifts Leslie gives him in life and, too soon, in death.
I dare you to try and read this book without getting tears on the page. And to think I only picked it up because I needed to blow time while my mother shopped at Hastings! When she unexpectedly turned up before I had finished the book, I had to buy it so I could read the whole thing, as it magnetically pulled me right to the end.
Recommended Age: 10+