But now here comes middle school and puberty. Change. Archer wonders how much change has to happen before his voice does. He doesn't see too far ahead, so every day or so a startling revelation breaks over him. Then a really big one when he's the best man at the wedding of two of his role models. But that gets ahead of the story.
Review: The Best Man is an adorable, funny, and insightful coming-of-age story that traces the milestones in Archer Magill's life from first to sixth grade while deftly addressing a variety of social issues. The book begins at a hilarious mishap when Archer was six year old and had to perform as ring bearer duties in a pair of muddy, too-tight shorts that have split open in the back. He recalls that he never wanted to participate in a wedding again until his two favorite people in the world get married. Archer has always had terrific male role models that he always looked up to: his father, as good at fixing problems as he is at restoring vintage cars; his stylish Uncle Paul; and his dignified grandfather Magill. He adds another person to his list when he meets his student-teacher Mr. McLeod, who accidentally causes a lockdown when he shows up at school in his National Guard uniform. Each of his role models teach Archer valuable lessons about prejudice, how to solve problems by talking them out, grieving, and gay rights. None of these values are heavy handed but are woven seamlessly into the narrative as Archer gains some wisdom on his own and by talking to others such as his mom and role models. Archer also realizes that his role models also have flaws just like he does. Overall this was a delightful, fun, quick story about friendship, family, and what it means to be a best man literally and metaphorically.
Rating: 4 stars
Words of Caution: There is a scene of bullying in which a student writes a homophobic slur on a character's forehead. Recommended for Grades 4 and up.
If you like this book try: Marco Impossible by Hannah Moskowitz, Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart