October 27, 2009

Review: Brothers, Boyfriends, and Other Criminal Minds

By April Lurie
Released by Random House (Laurel-Leaf)

Book Cover

BROTHERS, BOYFRIENDS, AND OTHER CRIMINAL MINDS is April Lurie's semi-autobiographical tale of growing up in a Brooklyn neighborhood populated by made men and falling in love with a Dominick. However, she made quite a bit up in order to deliver an interesting and exciting story.

If you're into books about relationships, you should definitely consider finding yourself a copy of BROTHERS, BOYFRIENDS, AND OTHER CRIMINAL MINDS. April Lundquist has a plethora of suitors: Dominick, her brother's friend Little Joe, and her best friend's boyfriend's best friend with whom she was conned into going on a date with, Bert. Then her brother, a good Scandinavian boy, falls in love with Bettina, the daughter of a high-ranked Mafioso.

But romantic relationships aren't the only ones on display. April watches out for her both of her brothers, as well as Soft Sal's odd son Larry. She's close friends with Brandi, even if their friendship takes some hits in the book due to their divergent tastes in men. She also has an odd relationship with her English teacher, who recognizes her potential but dislikes her penchant to snog boys rather than show up to class on time.

The novel works well because these relationships ring true. Even though it is set in the 70s, the family, friend, and significant other dynamics are very familiar. (Although I never had to worry about a sibling getting whacked due to putting moves on the wrong person.) It's quick and funny, much like a Simon Pulse Romantic Comedy. The subject matter could be dramatic and angsty, but April Lurie keeps it light. And the world needs more light comedies involving La Costa Nostra.

I might not have noticed this if it hadn't been pointed out in the Local Authors panel, but I do appreciate the fact that BROTHERS, BOYFRIENDS, AND OTHER CRIMINAL MINDS is clean (no sex scenes or cussing). Lurie does a good job of creating a heroine who is comfortable with her sexuality and not condemning her for having three love interests. April's just a healthy teen girl learning how to maneuver in non-platonic relationships with boys. I love, love, love that Lurie manages this without sex scenes so that I can recommend it to certain girls I know in real life without their mothers showing up at my house with poisoned baked goods, saying "Mangia, mangia."

I don't regret my decision to pick up the cheapest book at the Austin Teen Book Festival. I'm not sure I'll read this one again, but I found it entertaining and think it's a good one to recommend to girls in junior high and high school. (Another great thing? April is brainy and athletic, with fab taste in music.) Despite the hot pink cover, some guys might like it too, given the criminal element.

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