Monday, January 9, 2017

MMGM: The Best Man by Richard Peck


Newbery Medalist Richard Peck brings us this big-hearted novel about gay marriage from a kid’s endearing perspective

When Archer is in sixth grade, his beloved uncle Paul marries another man—Archer’s favorite student teacher. But that’s getting ahead of the story, and a wonderful story it is. In Archer’s sweetly na├»ve but observant voice, his life through elementary school is recounted: the outspoken, ever-loyal friends he makes, the teachers who blunder or inspire, and the family members who serve as his role models. From one exhilarating, unexpected episode to another, Archer’s story rolls along as he puzzles over the people in his life and the kind of person he wants to become…and manages to help his uncle become his best self as well.


Archer Magill's story begins with a wedding and ends with a wedding, which makes for a rather intriguing premise.  But I would expect no less from Richard Peck, whose books I have long enjoyed.  I wasn't sure about reading this one though once I saw the topic of gay marriage as being a major plot point.  But Peck handles the subject sensitively and really doesn't make that big a deal about it and it's only one of several plot points in the story.  Archer is a loveable, if rather naive character who loves his family.  Archer shares some of his experiences in elementary school before moving on to his first year in middle school and the changes that it brings.  The secondary characters are also great, especially Archer's Uncle Paul and his best friend Lynnette.  As Archer struggles through bullies, 'girls', and his grandfather's failing health, he still manages to maintain a great attitude, even if people have to tell him things sometimes, things he probably should have noticed himself (such as his Uncle Paul's being gay).  With delightful characters, and some rather unusual events (6th grade party at the house of a diplomat's house or the lockdown when the new student teacher shows up in a National Guard uniform).  The inclusion of modern technology and terminology gives the book a current feel, but may date the book quickly.  A sweet book about growing up, family, and friendship that is bound to appeal to young readers whose family situations don't fall into the traditional.

1 comment:

  1. I read this last year and really liked Archer's story, especially once he was in 6th grade.


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