Author: Carol Weston
Synopsis: In Ava XOX, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and Ava couldn’t care less. That is, until a new girl, Kelli, asks out Ava’s friend Chuck…and he says yes! What?!? Ava is NOT okay with this. But since when does she think about boys? For the first time ever, words fail Ava. She isn’t sure what she’s feeling (Like? Love? Friendship? Frustration?), or what “going out” even means. After all, fifth graders aren’t allowed to go anywhere by themselves, are they? To top it off, Pip’s friend Tanya is being bullied for her size. Ava wants to help—but, it’s not as easy as she imagines.
Huge thank you to Sourcebooks Jabberwocky and Netgalley for this ARC!
If there is a series I adore and hold close to my heart, it’s Ava and Pip. This series does an amazing job of being something middle graders can relate to, and isn’t written in a way that feels dumbed down. This time around, this third novel focuses on Ava having a secret crush and all the crazy surrounding that.
If I’m being honest, this was the book of the bunch that I connected with the most. I knew what it was like to be Ava’s age and having a crush on a boy who seemed off limits. Moreover, her feelings of inadequacy and jealousy were totally something I could relate to. That wanting to be the girl, but it not being in your favour. I equally love the reveal when she discovers that she does have a crush, and that sort of explosion that occurs in her mind because it’s something she struggles to articulate. I really just loved the portrayal of Ava’s emotions and found them to be done in such a realistic way.
If there was one part of the book that made me a bit uncomfortable, it’s what happened to Tanya and Pip. I get that that kind of bullying still very much exists, but it still made me uncomfortable. I also didn’t like Ava’s approach to helping Tanya either with her problem because while I get that she meant very well, it’s also none of her business. However, I was a bit more forgiving when the novel showed how Ava learns her lesson, and more specifically when she learns about issues with body types. I feel like applauding Weston for that just because it’s something that often goes undiscussed by parents.
With each installment I continue to fall in love with this series, simply because there’s a genuineness in Ava’s voice that just sucks you in. She’s a good kid, and the books do such a fantastic job of teaching morality, but also still having fun in its presentation. Ava XOX is a solid entry into this series, and I can only hope Carol Weston has more adventures in store for Ava very soon.