Last week Bruce kicked me in the balls at Scouts and all his buddies were there laughing and I started crying.
That’s Logan, the thirteen-year-old narrator of Ann Dee Ellis’s compelling and unusual YA novel This is What I Did:. Logan is a target for bullies for a variety of reasons: he’s the new kid and he’s mostly silent. There’s a reason, of course. His family has recently moved to the new school because of something horrific that happened concerning Logan and his best friend Zyler. Logan doesn’t want to talk about it, so the details of the event is unspooled in the kind of painful way that makes you read faster.
I also loved the way Logan shared his story.
A year ago I was fine. That’s when there was nothing wrong.
A year ago, in seventh grade, I was fine.
We were living on Mulholand with the hills and the lake and the freeway and the Minute Man Gas Stop and my best friend, Zyler, ate Twinkies and coke and hated girls, except one.
Dialogue looks like this:
Ryan: Why do you sit down here all the time?
Me: Where’s Mack?
Ryan: Helping Dad with something.
Ryan: Okay, I think I’m going to go back upstairs.
And then he left.
Logan has parents who desperately want to help him, but aren’t sure how. Given that we see them only through Logan’s eyes, they are believable and sympathetic, but by no means perfect.
It is only when Logan meets Laurel that he starts opening up. One day she hands him a note that says “Nascar=Racecar, Racecar=Palindrome.” Soon, he and Laurel are sending each other palindromes regularly and before he knows it, Logan has made a friend.
I really liked This is What I Did:. It tackles some weighty issues without shying away from them and allows the reader to share Logan’s journey from broken to healing in way that was both satisfying and hopeful.