The transition from kid to teen is hard for some. Relationships change and you begin to relate differently to your parents and to your friends and for some this is cause for major stress. Alex is a regular seventh grader whose life changes the day he sees a vision from heaven in the form of a new Haitian student called Bijou.
Alex and Bijou come from different background-he is Jewish, she is a recently immigrated Haitian who lives with her very protective uncle and aunt. As it turns out Haitian dating culture is very different to American. When Bijou does finally decide to go out with Alex the two must resort to very novel ways to be able to spend time together. As in any tale of first love, all doesn't go smoothly however and while Alex's mom doesn't forbid him from seeing Bijou, her aunt and uncle are very protective of her. As the tale wears on Alex starts to think that some of his friends are immature and this creates some tension as well.
Farrar researched this novel well because his descriptions of the Haitian drumming ceremony and the rapport between the drummers is spot on. Alex's reaction to traveling in a dollar taxi are much what I would expect someone who had never traveled in one to feel. Without being very preachy or overtly stating it Farrar shows us that the two main characters live in the same borough but in seemingly different worlds. Farrar does an excellent job of giving good information on Haiti but he doesn't lay it on too thick so as to overwhelm a young reader.
This is a fantastic little book for readers in grades 6-8.