Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Song for Bijou, by Josh Farrar

I first read about this book over at Ms. Yingling's blog.  Romance is always a bit of a tricky thing in that I tend to find them super girly or super sexy.  Farrar has hit the mark with A Song for Bijou in that it offers a boy's point of view without going into the realm of YA.

Alex knows the moment he lays eyes on Bijou that she is something special.  Time seems to slow down so that he notices every detail about her: from the way that she unwraps her straw at Peas 'n Pickles, to her stiff new uniform and the butterfly purple beads that end her braids.  The girl is with motor mouth Mary Agnes and Alex can she that she's not able to get a word in edgewise.  Alex asks his friend Nomura who the girl is, but he doesn't know either.

It doesn't take Alex too long to find out. Bijou goes to St. Catherine's along with Mary Agnes and Ira's sister Maricel, and the boys attend St. Christopher's which is the brother school.  Alex cannot wait to get to know Bijou, which shouldn't be too hard as they have a school dance coming up.

There are, however, a couple of obstacles that Alex has to get around before he can see what the possibilities are with Bijou.  First of, she is living with her Aunt and Uncle who are super strict about her hanging out with non-Haitians let alone with boys.  Then there are Rocky and Trevor - two tough guys who seem to have some interest in Bijou as well.  Lastly, there is the fact that Alex doesn't exactly know what to do in order to get Bijou to notice him!  He's been stuck at an all boys school forever, and hasn't had practice talking to girls aside from his mom and his sister Dolly.

Mary Agnes starts to hatch some plans that will allow not only Alex and Bijou to get to know one another, but herself and Nomura as well.  What follows is a story filled with age appropriate angst, first love, cultural clashes and misunderstandings.  Farrar gifts readers with the bitter sweet dance of first crushes from both Alex and Bijou's points of view.  Cultural and racial differences are not shied away from and Alex and Bijou must both face prejudice in their quest to get to know each other.  A breath of fresh air!

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