Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Battle of Darcy Lane - Tara Altebrando

The Battle of Darcy Lane - Tara Altebrando
The Battle of Darcy Lane by Tara Altebrando
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Publication Date: April 22, 2014
Source/Format: Bought (Thanks for the rec, Estelle!) || Hardcover

It is summertime, and twelve-year-old Julia Richards cannot stand the anticipation. Everyone on Darcy Lane seems to be holding their breath waiting for the cicadas to emerge, but what Julia and her best friend, Taylor, want is some real excitement. Which arrives in the form of a new neighbor named Alyssa, who introduces a ball game called Russia . . . and an unwelcome level of BFF rivalry.

Suddenly nothing stands unchallenged—not Julia's friendships, her crush, or her independence. But while Julia realizes that she cannot control all the changes in her life, she hangs onto the hope that everything will go in her favor if she can just win one magnificent showdown. (from Goodreads)

The Battle of Darcy Lane is seriously great! Altebrando has written the story of Julia’s friendship woes in a way that feels familiar, an echo of something that might have happened to the reader in real life. The potent combination of being a fun summer book and the reader’s probable identification with Julia and her story really made this one a totally awesome read.

At its core, The Battle of Darcy Lane is about friendship. Taylor and Julia are neighbors and BFFs, and they’ve pretty much decided to spend most of the summer together having fun. Everything changes though when a new girl – Alyssa – moves into their neighborhood. Immediately, Taylor is drawn to her and all the new entertainment and hobbies that Alyssa offers. She winds up buddying up with Alyssa, ditching Julia, who is left to deal with what’s left of their so-called friendship.

Altebrando clearly knows a thing or two about friendships. The hurt, anger and jealousy Julia feels at different points in this story are very valid and real reactions to how Taylor and Alyssa are treating her. I’ve been in the same bind as Julia before, and it’s so, so difficult! I was really feeling the same hurt as Julia when she gets ditched (and more than once!), but I do love how she eventually found her footing (and a solid friendship in a certain boy neighbor…). 

The focus on friendship was definitely a major highlight, but there were other things to love about The Battle of Darcy Lane. I loved that Julia’s parents were involved in the story, clearly caring about Julia and what was going on with her. I loved the fact that it was all set in a neighborhood, which reminded me of my early childhood days in the US. I loved Peter, Julia’s neighbor and friend, with whom she shares a special set of moments. I loved Russia, the ball game that Alyssa introduces in this novel, and how the finished copy I own included instructions on how to play.

Basically, I really enjoyed The Battle of Darcy Lane. It was fun and heartwarming, and happened to be relatable as well! Even though it’s meant for younger readers, there’s not a doubt in my mind that it could appeal to older readers too.

[Note: I totally bought this book after a recommendation from Estelle, including the trailer she sent me to watch. I'm sharing it below so you can see it too!]

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