“THE NEXT DOOR BOYS,” by Jolene B. Perry, Cedar Fort, Oct. 8, 2011, $16.99 (young adult)
Leigh Tressman just wants to be like everyone else — not “the girl who has cancer,” “the girl who sews” or “Jaron’s little sister.”
Now she’s heading off to college and hoping for some independence. The problem is, all those things she’s tired of being “named” define her. Leigh did survive cancer, but it’s after effects are still there. She lives next door to her brother, who may be overprotective, but loves her to a fault. And Leigh loves to sew, tackling new projects with gusto.
As Leigh experiences her first tastes of freedom, she learns to trust herself and the people around her.
“The Next Door Boys” is about as clean and as tame as you can get. It’s perhaps a little too squeaky clean for some people’s tastes, but it never feels deliberate, more that it’s just a part of who Leigh and author Jolene B. Perry are. Jolene really gets into Jolene’s head, adding depth and interest throughout the story.
What first attracted me to “The Next Door Boys” was both the book’s cover and synopsis. They left me intrigued.
But while I’d love to recommend this book to a number of people, I can’t. It’s simply too Mormon-centric to appeal to a large group of readers. Jolene writes with a Mormon audience in mind, using jargon and relating experiences that leave readers of other faiths in the dark. It’s unfortunate, because the basic story is sound and Leigh is a relatable character. By adding a few explanations and minor tweaks, Jolene could have had much more marketable and overall enjoyable book.