Monday, September 26, 2016

The Battle of Darcy Lane

When new girl, Alyssa, moves to Darcy Lane, Julia fears the end of her friendship with best friend, Taylor.  Alyssa is assertive, and right from the start, Julia can feel Taylor pulling away.

At first, Julia wants to win Alyssa over, but when it becomes clear that isn't going to happen, she focuses on trying to win Taylor back.  Peter, another neighbor, and Julia's crush, doesn't see what the big deal is.  He seems to see right through Alyssa from the start.  As does Julia's mother, who doesn't seem too fond of Taylor either.

In an effort to try to fit in, Julia tries to play Russia, a ball bouncing game that Alyssa introduces to the girls.  Before she knows it, Julia has challenged Alyssa to an ultimate Russia battle where the stakes feel high.

Tara Altebrando does an excellent job of portraying the life of a 12 year old girl.  It's all there--the conflict of trying to grow up while your parents are trying to keep you young, the friends who seem simultaneously more mature and more horrible than they've ever been, and the mean girls in all their incarnations.

Darcy Lane could have easily become a simplistic and serviceable story, but it's so much more than that.  The characters, even some of the adults, are complex and complicated, and the metaphor of the long anticipated arrival of the cicadas is thoughtful.  Highly recommended, especially for those who are in the 12 year old girl trenches!

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