So. Kendra’s bffs are all off for the summer to do Exciting! Things! but Kendra is stuck in New York with her idiotic little brother Oscar and then her parents’ friends’ son Frank comes to stay with them while his parents go to Europe to try not to get a divorce (subtext). Kendra is all, What if Frank is doofy, or he thinks I’m doofy, and I am like, Do not worry, Kendling. The cover has already tipped me off that you will have a dreamy summer romance. Also, I’ll be bringing ‘doofy’ back.
So Frank shows up and he has a girlfriend back home (temporary setback) but he is FUN and also his name lends itself to puns about being Frank with people (ok, just that one pun, but it’s made a couple of times. This book has never met a pun it didn’t want to make. ‘Sometimes I think my father has a case of acute silliness. I told him that once and he said that what he has is a cute silliness.’ Or about Oscar: ‘No wonder his classmates call him The Bottomless Pit. If he eats like that, when he comes a teenager I bet they’ll refer to him as The Bottomless Zit.’ HO! Zing. And they’re all like this, way too much effort and set-up for what turns out to be not a very good joke after all. But nuts to that. Even the worst pun is still…no, bad puns are pretty bad).
But anyway. Frank and Kendra’s parents collude to send the three of them on an Educational Scavenger Hunt where they scavange facts like what the names of the lions are in front of the NYPL, and this is before the internets when you had to actually GO to the NYPL and ASK someone. Dark Ages of leaving your damn house, hey? Anyhoodle, this being 80s YA and therefore like seventeen pages, very little time is spent actually hunting but there’s an answer key for all the scavanging in the back. Manhattan is 13.4 miles long.
And ah, the 80s, when metaphors about young adults being like emerging butterflies were still fresh and when teens said things like ‘Ugh. Yuck. Phooey.’ PHOOEY! That one is Classic InnocenTeen. Also, only in the 80s would you need to clarify that sushi is raw fish. Also, Kendra on that cover is me circa 1989. Loads of hair, indeterminate brown; oversized tee tied at the waist; ill-fitting jeans; Keds.
And the lessons are Right There In Words. ‘It’s a strange city, with so much richness and so much poverty.’ ‘I really do have to remember not to judge people so much on surface stuff.’ Oh Kendra, you are the learningest thing there ever was. I’m glad Frank breaks up with his too-old girlfriend and you get to LEARN how to LOVE. No, seriously. I’m very glad that happened.
Can you be nostalgic for a book you’ve never read? I’m going to say yes. This has that sentimental 80s essence, and also now I know like five facts about New York. The natives are sure to be impressed.
I can’t even rate this business. Dreamy 80s caterpillars!