Fifteen-year-old Nix Humbolt doesn't talk much. He's barely outgrown his "Fatty Humbolt" days, and although he is taller and leaner now, he has learned it is best to keep a low profile. He dreams about his only friend's girl, but of course she is hopelessly out of his league. Lonely and introverted, he is happiest in his father's woodworking shop, where he builds exquisite boxes and tables. The only battles Nix fights are on his Xbox - until the day he finds the guts to fight for Swiff Dunphy's neglected dog. Then there is Roxy, Nix's spirited older sister who always knows just how to get what she wants. But the guy she wants is seriously toxic, and even Nix can see that she is headed for disaster. All Nix can do is cover for her when she breaks curfew or comes home drunk. But this time Roxy is about to spiral out of control and change all their lives forever. And there is nothing he can do to stop it.
This meticulously-crafted novel-in-verse is as finely-honed as one of Nix's own woodworking projects . . . While Nix struggles to find his voice, MacLean's impeccable poetry - spare, evocative, and affecting - enables readers to enter into his mind and heart. And they will be amply rewarded by the experience.
YAs who are drawn to contemporary fiction and verse novels won't want to miss this . . .
Readers used to a diet of cliché-ridden YA fiction will enjoy this refreshing take on the teenage plight . . . [T]he hard-won hopefulness of Nix's growth will linger with them long after the poetry ends.
The novel's strength comes from the authenticity of Nix's emotional evolution . . . This is an absorbing, emotionally resonant book.
MacLean has produced another wonderful novel. She is to be applauded for respecting her readership and refusing to shy away from difficult topics . . . **Highly Recommended.**
[A] sensitive story . . . Beautifully descriptive . . .
[MacLean's] writing is strong and fluid but laced with vulnerability.
Well-crafted and intense, an engrossing family drama in which both young and old learn what it means to grow up.
. . . a story about a young man finding out who he really is. A strong book.
. . . an exceptional novel that is not to be missed.
. . . a well-paced story that will leave readers thoroughly engaged with the characters.
As Nix struggles to find his voice, MacLean soothes us with the gorgeousness of her writing, the spare but perfect free verse of this unforgettable gem.
Writing with careful, evocative language, MacLean explores love in myriad forms.
The story is complex and engaging, and the deep themes make this an excellent novel for study and discussion