Friday, November 01, 2013

The Year of Billy Miller (2013)

The Year of Billy Miller. Kevin Henkes. 2013. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

I liked some things about The Year of Billy Miller. I did. But. I didn't quite "love, love, love" The Year of Billy Miller. I liked that it balanced school stories with family stories. There would be scenes set in the classroom, with the teacher, perhaps, or with his classmates. There would be scenes set at home with Billy interacting with his dad, his mom, his sister, his best friend. 

I thought Henkes did a much better job with the home scenes, the family stuff, than the school stuff. I did get a good sense of Billy Miller's home, what his family was like, the dynamics of those relationships. I really liked seeing Billy challenge himself here. For example, his love-hate relationship with his younger sister. Sometimes he HATES her (like when she "adds" glitter to his school project), and sometimes he LOVES her (like when he goes to her bedroom and wakes her up because he's scared and doesn't want to be alone). I thought there were some sweet and tender scenes between Billy and the individual members of his family. 

I was not as impressed with Billy's school life, however. I thought the book started off promising with Billy trying to impress his new teacher, his biggest desire earning her love and respect, wanting to be thought one of the "good" kids in the room, etc. And in the few scenes we see with the teacher, well, it works well enough, I suppose. But what this book lacked that other books for this age group don't is memorable classmates. The school stuff just didn't work for me as well. The characterization just wasn't there, the descriptions just weren't there. Part of me liked the fact that the book was so rushed and that it was more a series of novellas than an actual novel, the other part of me wanted more continuity and less jumping about in time. (The first chapter starts with the first day of school; the last chapter finishes off the school year.) 

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comments:

Suko 11:56 PM  

This is a new book to me, although I've heard of this author. Very nice, balanced review, Becky.

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
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I am not a fan of:

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  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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