In Finley’s middle school, kissing frogs might lead to princes — if there were any frogs! Categorizing classmates leads to a battle of the sexes in this M!X novel from the author of Just Another Day in My Insanely Real Life.
According to Finley and her BFF, Maya, middle school boys can be put into three separate categories: tadpoles, croakers, and frogs. Per their official Life Cycle of Amphibian Boys, while tadpoles are totally not developed yet (read: boys who still love fart jokes and can’t have a normal conversation with girls without making fun of them), a frog is the top of the boy food chain — evolved and mature. Sadly, not many boys have reached that elusive frog status at Staunton Middle School.
Finley thought she had everyone pegged, until Zachary Mattison enters the picture. After suddenly leaving the year before, Zachary’s surprise reappearance at SMS forces Finley to see him in a new light. And when the official life cycle list falls into the wrong hands, it causes a battle between the boys and girls that turns into an all-out war –one that Finley isn’t sure anyone can really win…
Title: The (Almost) Perfect Guide to Imperfect Boys
Author: Barbara Dee
Source: ARC from Edelweiss
Publication date: September 30, 2014
I received The (Almost) Perfect Guide to Imperfect Boys from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Finley and her best friend Maya have a whole system worked out to categorize the boys in their middle school as tadpoles, croakers, and frogs, with frogs being the most evolved and, therefore, the most worthy boys. At least they’re able to talk to girls. The Life Cycle of Amphibian Boys is pretty complex and it’s interesting to think about, but in the end, all left me thinking about was how immature Finley and Maya were to develop it in the first place. I’m not sure they would be tadpole-level, but maybe lower-croaker.
Maya’s ready to move on from the Life Cycle anyway; Finley’s doing most of the work at this point. It’s her crutch, something she feels a need to hold onto even after she realizes that Maya hasn’t contributed in awhile, and especially as she and Maya start having problems. At the same time, Zachary, who used to be known as Freakazoid before he moved away (definite tadpole!), is back in town and had suddenly become a frog. His eyes are almost purple! Naturally, Finley and Maya both like him, as do all the other girls, but it’s Finley and Zachary that develop a friendship. He remembers that she was kind to him when he was known as Freakazoid and now that Finley’s spending less time with Maya, she needs a friend as much as he does.
I was impressed by the way Maya stands up for Finley when Finley leaves the Life Cycle notebook unattended and some mean girls read it out loud to the whole class. Maya had been kind of mean to Finley earlier, but she comes through when it counts. Maya and Finley aren’t speaking at the time and no one knows Maya contributed to the Life Cycle, so she could have kept quiet about it. Instead, Maya defends Finley and owns up to her part in it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help that much and Finley’s pretty much ostracized for awhile.
Although Finley eventually learns some valuable lessons about friendship and growing up, The (Almost) Perfect Guide to Imperfect Boys moves a little slowly. The parts about Finley’s home life could have been more interesting. Her mother is a mommy blogger raising toddler twins in addition to Finley, and Finley feels like her mom, who worked outside the home when Finley was young, was less involved with her own childhood than she is with the twins. I’m not sure why that part of the book didn’t work for me, but I found myself skimming and not caring very much about Finley’s family angst.
The (Almost) Perfect Guide to Imperfect Boys isn’t a bad book, but it doesn’t quite live up to my expectations for it.