The Swift Boys and Me by Kody Keplinger

Summary from Goodreads:

Nola Sutton has been best friends and neighbors with the Swift boys for practically her whole life. There’s the youngest, Kevin, who never stops talking; the oldest, Brian, who’s always kind and calm; and then there’s Canaan, the ringleader and Nola’s best-best friend. Nola can’t imagine her life without the Swift boys — they’ll always be like this, always be friends.

But then everything changes overnight.

When the Swifts’ daddy leaves without even saying good-bye, it completely destroys the boys, and all Nola can do is watch. Kevin stops talking and Brian is never around. Even Canaan is drifting away from Nola — hanging out with the neighborhood bullies instead of her.

Nola just wants things to go back to the way they were — the way they’ve always been. She tries to pull the boys back to her, only the harder she pulls, the further away they seem. But it’s not just the Swifts whose family is changing, so is Nola’s, and she needs her best friends now more than ever. Can Nola and the Swift boys survive this summer with their friendships intact, or has everything fallen apart for good?

Nola’s struggle to save her friends, her unwavering hope, and her belief in the power of friendship make Kody Keplinger’s middle-grade debut a poignant story of loss and redemption.

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This is a really sweet and beautifully written middle grades novel. The only thing keeping me from giving it five stars is that I felt like the ending, while hopeful and complete enough to resolve the book, didn’t quite do Lola and Canaan justice. They were such great characters – there should have been more resolution, both in their relationship and in Canaan’s family life.

I definitely recommend The Swift Boys and Me to kids in the 4th-6th grade range! The adorable cover will no doubt appeal to lots of young girls, but the messages and themes are perfect for boys, too. For my fellow teachers, this would make a great summer reading choice for students coming into 5th and 6th grades!

Find it here on Amazon or at your preferred bookseller. Enjoy!

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