After he opens his big mouth in a big fight with his best friend, Jake concludes that talking = trouble. He decides that communicating through writing is safer. Through notes scribbled on napkins and in notebooks, on upside-down calculators, and on walls with pudding-covered fingers, Jake explores new ways to express himself. But there are also the notes he never sends. To his flirty friend. Who is just a friend. But could be more than a friend. But isn’tor is she? Hillary Frank’s inventive style envelops her readers in a new dimension of storytelling. Jake + Xandra = a story about what it means to be just friends.” All without saying a word.
After a falling out with his best friend and roommate, college student Jake concludes, "Don't want any words coming out of my mouth. All I do is mess them up," so he stops talking. The novel unfolds through notes he writes with his friends (which inspire copycats when he attracts attention from girls), journal entries (including messages to his twin sister, a "fetus ghost" who died in the womb) and unsent letters to his crush, Xandra, in which he reveals his true feelings for her. While the premise may be a bit of a stretch, the notes make for entertaining-and quick-reading. Frank (Better Than Running at Night) includes creative flourishes, such as drawings of the pudding Jake and Xandra splatter all over each other during one of their many play fights, the dorm setting is spot on, and Jake comes across as an authentic character. While the protagonist makes vulgar jokes, he's clever with words, and sensitive, too: Jake is hurt that his roommate Sean no longer wants to be his friend, and also by his parents' recent separation. Readers will easily understand why Jake's afraid to "risk everything" and confess how he feels to Xandra (even though his feelings are obvious, and readers may tire a bit of how long it takes to finally admit them). All in all, the author creates a story both clever and heartfelt. Ages 14-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.