Review: Ava XOX by Carol Weston

Middle Grade Madness

Ava XOX by Carol Weston

Love is in the air-and Ava thinks she’s allergic

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and Ava couldn’t care less. That is, until a new girl, Kelli, asks out Ava’s friend Chuck…and he says yes! What?!? Ava is NOT okay with this. But since when does she think about boys? For the first time ever, words fail Ava. She isn’t sure what she’s feeling (Like? Love? Friendship? Frustration?), or what “going out” even means. After all, fifth graders aren’t allowed to go anywhere by themselves, are they?

To top it off, Pip’s friend Tanya is being bullied for her size. Ava wants to help-but, uh oh, it’s not as easy as she imagines.

Title: Ava XOX
Author: Carol Weston
Publication date: February 2, 2016

I received Ava XOX from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Ava XOX is the third book in the Ava and Pip series. I reviewed Ava and Pip and Ava and Taco Cat earlier.

The thing I like about the Ava and Pip series is that the girls are growing up. In most of the series books I read when I was the appropriate age to be reading books like this, the characters were stagnant. They might have had four summers or six Christmases, but they always stayed the same age and not much really changed. In these books, Ava and her sister Pip are both maturing. Time moves slowly (Ava XOX picks up shortly after Ava and Taco Cat ends), but the changes are there. Pip, especially, has changed a lot since the first book. She’s not really shy anymore; she has friends and even a boyfriend now. Ava, too, is starting to be interested in boys: one boy in particular.

But Chuck is “going out” with Kelli. Kelli is new and, like Zara in the last book, Ava doesn’t like her and is jealous because her friend (Chuck, in this case) is spending more time with someone new than with her. At first Ava isn’t ready to admit even to herself that she has a crush on Chuck, but slowly she realizes what it is and starts writing about it in her diary. The diary provides a good outlet for her feelings, since she can’t exactly share them with Chuck and isn’t really ready to talk about them with Pip or her friend Maybelle.

Ava’s other main storyline involves Pip’s friend Tanya. When Pip and Tanya have to give a speech about an artist who painted larger people, Pip worries because Tanya is quite overweight. Sure enough, the other kids in school make fun of Tanya, humiliating her during an assembly. When Ava tries to help, she finds herself the target of the bullies too.

I hadn’t really put it together until now, but Ava reminds me a little of Ramona Quimby. (This is always a good thing.) Ava is older, but she even looks a little like Ramona and always seems to be getting herself into situations. Like Ramona, Ava always manages to get herself out of them too.

Growing up is hard, but Ava has a good support system in her family and friends (and Taco Cat). I don’t see any more books listed on Goodreads for this series, but I hope Ava XOX won’t be the last. I want to read more about Ava and her adventures, and see if she ever makes it to sixth grade.

4 stars