Monday, November 17, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Swift Boys and Me

If you enjoy a book where you get attached to the characters and their problems, then this is a good one for you. It’s all about a family falling apart and how one girl tries to deal with it.

Here’s the Amazon description:

Eleven-year-old 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. Together, they have a summer of fun adventures planned.

But then everything changes overnight.

When the boys' dad leaves without even saying good-bye, it completely destroys the Swift family, and all Nola can do is watch. She tries to hold on to them, but they are changing. Kevin stops talking, Canaan starts hanging out with mean boys, and Brian is never around. Nola just wants things to go back to the way they were -- the way they've always been.

Is Nola strong enough to save the Swift boys from themselves, or has she lost them forever?

The Swift Boys and Me by Kody Keplinger, Scholastic, 2014

My Take:

I liked the slightly different take on this story about family in this novel. Nola wants to help her best friends (who are boys) but everything is changing for them, and for her. She’s also trying to raise some money for a visit to the circus. I thought the characters were quite realistic – they all had different personalities and no one was perfect. 

I especially liked the subplot of Nola becoming friendlier with her grandmother, even though at the beginning she was using visits to her grandmother as an excuse to do some spying.

Opening Line:

“I never told the boys I saw their daddy leave that night.”


“I imagined tiny little Kevin in the boys’ dark closet, curled up in a ball on the floor. The thought made me want to cry.”

“I woke up to the sound of firecrackers down the street, and for the first time in my life, it didn’t make me smile.”

“Since Felicia was brave enough to be honest with me, I decided to be honest with her, too. I hoped she’d take it okay.”

Other Info:

Kody Keplinger lives in New York City with her German Shepherd. The Swift Boys and Me is her first published middle grade book. 

She’s also written several YA books, including The Duff and Secrets and Lies. She was 17 when she sold her first book, The Duff.

Check out Kody’s vlog about The Swift Boys and Me.

Author Shannon Messenger posts a list of bloggers reviewing middle grade books every Monday. Shannon is the founder of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and the author of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series.


  1. This one sounds wonderful. It's a real situation that happens much too often. One look at the cover though and you'd never guess what the story was really about. Maybe that was intentional. Anyway, thanks for the recommend.

  2. Sounds kinda sad - and totally like some real life kids I know.

  3. I really like the sound of this one. I will be sure to check it out. Thanks for telling me about it.

  4. I'd heard Kody had written an MG but I didn't know what it was about. Thanks for the recommendation!

  5. Hi, I'm a new follower. I stopped by because I read your comment on Moody Writing, about how kids lose their love of books and reading when forced to analyze them to the point of nausea (paraphrased with my own spin on your comment).

    I just wanted to tell you how much your comment resonated with me. In school my English and Literature professors often ruined the joy of reading books for me. My thirteen year old son is experiencing this right now. He's always been an avid reader and a natural born story teller, but his current teacher has spent so long analyzing, discussing and testing on "symbolism," "motif," and "theme," that his enthusiasm is waning. The thrill of reading has been replaced with resentment and dread.

    I enjoyed your review of The Swift Boys and Me. I seldom read MG, but have to say the opening line in the book, “I never told the boys I saw their daddy leave that night,” is a more captivating hook than I've read in many adult novels. Fabulous review.

    It's very nice to meet you.

    1. Hi Melissa! It's nice to meet you too. Thank you for your kind remarks. I think it's so important for kids to enjoy reading and to read what they love! I hope your son finds some great books that he can enjoy, outside of what he is required to read for school.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Thanks for spotlighting this. I'd not heard of this one, but I'm definitely putting it in my TBR list.


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