HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: His and Hers: New in Town
Author: B. B. Calhoun
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 11 and up
Rating: ** 2 stars (POOR)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Calhoun, B. B. His and Hers: New in Town (published in 1997 by Avon Books, a division of The Hearst Corporation, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY 10019). Lila Gordon lives in Haverfield, MA, with her parents, Monroe and Gail. She is an eighth grade student at Lincoln Junior High whose favorite subject is math, and her best friend, since sixth grade, is Allison Crowley. Justin Graham, also in eighth grade, has just moved with his mom from San Diego, CA, to Haverfield where she has a job in the hospital. They are getting a new start on life after his dad left, remarried, and moved to Oregon. Lila and Justin literally run into one another on the first day of school and seem to click. But Karen Martin is after Justin, and Allison’s seventh grade brother Marcus really likes Lila, so a series of misunderstandings and miscommunications resulting from their combined insecurities might just sabotage Lila and Justin’s friendship before it has a chance to flourish. Will they ever get together?
This is a typical teenage romance, a genre that I would never pick up, but it was in a bag of books that I bought at a library sale. The story is told from the alternating viewpoints of its two main characters. Actually, it is not too bad of a book, since there is nothing overtly sexual going on. However, as you can imagine, a lot of emphasis is placed on going out, dating, breaking up, having a crush, boyfriends and girlfriends, kissing, being romantic, and, of course, the requisite school dance. Many godly parents prefer that their children not be introduced to these kinds of activities period, but what makes this book worse is that all these things are going on with junior high age kids, just twelve and thirteen years old. It reads more like a book for kids sixteen to eighteen, but the recommended reading age is eleven and up. New in Town illustrates how young people are being sexualized at increasingly earlier and earlier ages.
In addition, on a couple of occasions it is said that a girl had on a “short dress.” In one scene, Justin takes off his shirt at work (a junior high kid working at a nursery?) and when Lila comes to see him she describes him as “tan and buff.” In another scene, Justin and Karen go mixed swimming at the lake and she is wearing a black bikini. Even though the story gives the boy’s perspective, it would probably be of interest more to girls. To those involved in the usual public school boy-girl relationships, it might seem realistic, but to families who are trying to raise children to be different it would likely have no relevance. Apparently, it was intended to be the first book in a unique new series. I did fine a reference to a book 2, His and Her: Summer Dreams (1998), in which Dana and Michael meet at a lake resort where they enjoy a wonderful summer of fun and romance, so there is nothing more about Lila and Justin. The name of author B. B. Calhoun sounded familiar, and a little research revealed that she has also written a series entitled “Dinosaur Detectives” which we read and enjoyed when our boys were younger.