Have you ever had that best friend that you’d do almost anything for, but who frequently drives you completely insane? That’s Stephen’s best friend Marco Kimura: short, gay, half-Japanese, half-Italian.
The boys have been partners in crime all through elementary and middle school. But now Marco has abruptly decided to go to the local private academy, and Stephen has no idea why. Just as Stephen contemplates high school without Marco, Marco plans one final heist: sneak into the high school prom, and declare his love on stage for Benji, the adorable British exchange student who’s heading back to the UK for the summer the following day (Benji is playing in his brother’s band).
The heart of the book is the complicated relationship between Stephen and Marco. Stephen has always been the sidekick, backing up Marco’s missions and schemes. You see time and time again how much he cares for Marco, intercepting snow-cones thrown at Marco, fetching the Tylenol for Marco’s headaches, and trying to protect him from bullies. At the same time, Stephen feels betrayed by Marco for leaving, exhausted by Marco’s need to be the constant centre of attention every moment of every day, and wondering when Marco will help him with his goals (like telling Sasha he likes her). The book captures that uncertainty and confusion when you have a big change in your life (like going to high school), and shows how it can make you angry at even the people you care about.
There were a few loose ends left unresolved, such as Marco’s relationship with Luke, his chief tormentor at school, and I would have loved to follow the characters to see what happens after the prom.
And Marco’s declaration of love is so cool I can’t resist quoting it in full here (for the vast majority of you who won’t read the book!).
“The thing is that I really like you.” Marco rubs his forehead, hard. I’d forgotten all about the headache. “I like you so much that I’m not even sure if like is even the right work. I just … I think you’re incredibly incredible, and I couldn’t let you go back to England without telling you that. It’s not that I’m expecting anything. I know that I’m… that I’m short and I’m loud and I know too much about Sherlock Holmes and not enough about soccer, but Sherlock Holmes was British, at least, so there’s that, but I still know that there’s really no chance you’re going to like me back. So this isn’t about that, really. I mean if you want to say…”-he puts on this pretty amazing British accent-“Marco, I’m terribly desperately in love with you too, then don’t let me discourage you or anything, but I want you to know that you don’t have to worry about hurting my feelings or something, because this isn’t about that. It’s just me wanting to let you know how amazing and special you are and that I’ve never liked liking anyone as much as I …as I love liking you.”
If that doesn’t move you, then you have a HEART OF STONE, and there’s really no hope for you.
Review by Cirrus.