Out of Order by Betty Hicks
Summary from Goodreads:
“We’ll have fun,” Mom pleaded. “You’ve always wanted a brother–” “A younger brother,” said Parker. “I wanted a younger brother.” “But Eric is great. He’ll-“ “You don’t get it, Mom. I’ve always been the youngest. Now I’m going to be even younger!”
Before her mom remarried, Lily was the eldest; now she has dropped to second from the bottom. Her 13-year-old stepsister, V, is brilliant, popular, and seriously beautiful, but “lately she’s been toxic waste.” That, however, is only Lily’s viewpoint. Hicks tells her uproarious story in fast, alternating narratives from the four stepsiblings, who suddenly find themselves together in a blended family. Along with all the jealousy and hurt, they still have fun, as when they hold a rock-paper-scissors competition for a neighborhood fund-raiser. There’s also a little puzzle. Who has destroyed the tomatoes that V has been growing to raise money to send soccer balls to kids in Iraq?
I chose to read this book over the Christmas break because it has been recommended for the 2012-2013 Pikes Peak Battle of the Books list. I’m usually skeptical about the books that are recommended for this list. The persons in charge of the selection committee seem intent on forcing students to read what they, as adults, think students should be reading. Often the books recommended are of little interest to students or even if they are a good read, not in print. So, you can imagine that I didn’t start this book with the expectation of finding it to be a good read. I LOVE it when a book surprises me.
What I liked about the book: I like how each chapter is written from a different character’s points of view. Some readers find that to be confusing, but I for the most part find that it gives the reader more insight into what makes each character who they are. Hicks does a masterful job of this. I like that even though the story is about a serious issue (blending families), it is still a light enjoyable read. Hick’s doesn’t play down the challenges of being a kid and suddenly finding yourself with a whole new family, but rather than focusing on all the negatives she highlights some of the humorous and positive aspects as well. And of course I like that “it all works out in the end.” That doesn’t always happen in real life, but it’s nice to read about it once in a while.
What I didn’t like about the book: Can’t think of anything. It’s just one of those all around good reads.
Will I recommend this for the Battle of the Books list? Possibly. I have about six or so more recommended books to read. We can only add two new books to the list. I do know that I will recommend this to my students and I plan to purchase it for the library.