The boys in the back row

Mike Jung

Book - 2020

Best friends Matt and Eric are hatching a plan for one big final adventure together before Eric moves away: during the marching band competition at a Giant Amusement Park, they will sneak away to a nearby comics convention and meet their idol--a famous comic creator. Without cell phones. Or transportation. Or permission. Of course, their final adventure together is more than just that--really, it's a way for the boys to celebrate their friendship, and their honest love and support for one a...nother. That's exactly what we love so much about The Boys in the Back Row: it's an unabashed ode to male friendship, because love between boys, platonic or otherwise, is something to celebrate. And of course, because this is Mike Jung, we'll be celebrating it with hilariously flawed hijinks and geekiness galore!--

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Subjects
Genres
Humorous fiction
Published
Montclair, New Jersey : Levine Querido 2020.
Language
English
Item Description
"This is an Arthur A. Levine book".
Physical Description
267 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9781646140114
1646140117
Main Author
Mike Jung (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Matt and Eric, two nerds unashamed of loving comics, the school marching band, and each other, have been besties since fourth grade. Now, in sixth grade, Eric reveals to Matt that, at the end of the school year, his family is moving away. When it's announced that the school band will compete in the World of Amazement Spring Music Festival, the two boys plan one final, epic adventure: sneaking away from the festival in order to see their favorite artist at DefenderCon, the local comics convention. Jung's (Unidentified Suburban Object, 2016) voice is a gift to middle-grade fiction, driven largely by the protagonist's wry attention to detail and by dialogue that, whether it's between bantering schoolboys or Matt and his politically progressive parents, is rich in character, wit, and authenticity. While readers should be cautioned about a through line of homophobic bullying, in addition to racial slurs used against Korean American Matt (Eric is white), the bullies' malicious language (most often using queer derogatively) is addressed head-on and refuted on the page. Most important, the bullying is used by the author in service of the story's utter rejection of toxic masculinity. A swerve ending reminds readers that, at its heart, this is a beautiful celebration of the powerful, pure, and unselfconscious friendships that peak in the preteen years. Grades 4-7. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Hilltop Summit K–8 School sixth graders Matthew Park, who is Korean American, and Eric Costa, who is white, have been best friends since fourth grade orchestra, where they bonded after Matt introduced Eric to comics. When they hear that their band class is going to compete in a three-day amusement park music festival, the boys are thrilled—especially when they find out that Jonah Burns, their favorite graphic novelist, is going to sign the Sandpiper Iconic Edition at nearby DefenderCon. The boys don't seriously consider ditching the last day of the festival, however, until they receive some news: Eric's mother has been offered a job as a pastry chef in New York, and the Costas are moving across the country at the end of the school year. But when bully Sean McKenna discovers their plans for a last hurrah—and, worse, wants in—the boys must decide how best to proceed. The treatment of themes including toxic masculinity, anti-Asian racism, and homophobia at times lacks nuance, but the colloquial kid-speak rings true. The boys' friendship is refreshingly open and affectionate, and the narrative, including a bittersweet ending, is a resonant portrayal of the transitory nature of adolescence. Ages 8–12. Agent: Marietta B. Zacker, Gallt & Zacker Literary.(Oct.) Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 5–7—Matt feels he can handle anything sixth grade dishes out so long as he has his best friend, Eric. But when Eric learns his family is moving at the end of the school year, Matt's world is rocked. The friends cook up one last adventure that will make them school legends—or get them expelled. Their plan? Sneak out on the last day of a school band trip to meet their favorite author at a nearby comics convention. Trouble starts when classmate and frenemy Sean learns about the excursion and wants in. Matt's first-person narration is fresh, funny, and keenly observant of all the social complexities of both the middle school and adult worlds. Jung addresses tough topics from bullying to gender stereotypes in a breezy style that doesn't undermine the seriousness of the issues. The novel, and its title, are a loving homage to band kids in general and the back row of student musicians who play bass drums. Matt and Eric's bond, the heart of the novel, is a touching, honest depiction of male friendship. Despite their looming separation, Matt remains hopeful about the future, citing the exploits of his favorite comic book heroine, Sandpiper: "Even if she was about to lose someone she cared about, I still wanted to find out what happened next." Readers will feel the same. VERDICT Witty and original—how many novels celebrate band kids? A first purchase for all middle grade collections.—Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem P.L., Holbrook, NY Copyright 2020 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Best friends Matt and Eric are hatching a plan for one big final adventure together before Eric moves away: during the marching band competition at a Giant Amusement Park, they will sneak away to a nearby comics convention and meet their idol--a famous comic creator. Without cell phones. Or transportation. Or permission. Of course, their final adventure together is more than just that--really, it's a way for the boys to celebrate their friendship, and their honest love and support for one another. That'sexactly what we love so much about The Boys in the Back Row: it's an unabashed ode to male friendship, because love between boys, platonic or otherwise, is something to celebrate. And of course, because this is Mike Jung, we'll be celebrating it with hilariously flawed hijinks and geekiness galore!--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Best friends Matt and Eric are hatching a plan for one big final adventure together before Eric moves away: during the marching band competition at a Giant Amusement Park, they will sneak away to a nearby comics convention and meet their idol-a famous comic creator. Without cell phones. Or transportation. Or permission. Of course, their final adventure together is more than just that-really, it's a way for the boys to celebrate their friendship, and their honest love and support for one another. That's exactly what we love so much about The Boys in the Back Row: it's an unabashed ode to male friendship, because love between boys, platonic or otherwise, is something to celebrate. And of course, because this is Mike Jung, we'll be celebrating it with hilariously flawed hijinks and geekiness galore!

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Best friends Matt and Eric are hatching a plan for one big final adventure together before Eric moves away: during the marching band competition at a Giant Amusement Park, they will sneak away to a nearby comics convention and meet their idol-a famous comic creator. Without cell phones. Or transportation. Or permission. Of course, their final adventure together is more than just that-really, it's a way for the boys to celebrate their friendship, and their honest love and support for one another. That's exactly what we love so much about The Boys in the Back Row: it's an unabashed ode to male friendship, because love between boys, platonic or otherwise, is something to celebrate. And of course, because this is Mike Jung, we'll be celebrating it with hilariously flawed hijinks and geekiness galore!