I can’t for the life of me remember why this one was on my middle school tbr pile. I believe I saw it on a list and went “sure, why not.” I assumed it had something to do with a wedding, but in actuality it is so much more.
The Best Man by Richard Peck follows Archer from kindergarten through sixth grade and the two weddings that bookend this time in his life. Archer is a typical kid, learning the ropes as he goes. He has to deal with bullies, teachers who go on maternity leave, sick grandparents–many of the things kids face over a span of years.
Circling all this is Archer’s Uncle Paul. Everyone seems to tip-toe around Archer. He isn’t a very observant kid; he needs things spelled out for him, so when he finds out that his Uncle Paul is gay, he is literally the last to know. He is also the last to find out that his student teacher is gay and starts dating his uncle.
This is a book about things kids deal with everyday: school, making friends and the knowledge you gain as you grow.
This is a really hard book to explain. Seriously, my mini synopsis does little to inspire but The Best Man has some really great lessons to teach about acceptance and growing up today.
One of the things I loved about this book was how well it portrays modern childhood. Kids have cell phones, there’s YouTube and Facebook, media frenzies, and more. This would actually be a great book for parents who are having trouble relating to the things their kids are dealing with today that they never had to.
Now, so as not to give any false allusions, nothing really ever goes wrong for Archer (there is one exception but even that ends up tidily solved). This isn’t really a book about overcoming obstacles. It is more a look into how we grow up in today’s society. But Archer and his family are charming, his friends are true and for the most part, his story is believable.
The book has a really great voice and the pace of the story keeps it moving. I would recommend this book to 4th – 5th graders. It is more targeted toward a male reader but Archer’s best friend is a strong female character, who grows up and deals with her own troubles right alongside Archer.
My initial instinct was to give this book 5 stars and I am going to stick with my gut.
That’s all for now!