Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this novel!
Title: To Night Owl From Dogfish
Authors: Holly Goldberg-Sloan and Meg Wolitzer
Genre: Middle Grade contemporary
Release date: 21st February 2019
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Trigger/content warnings: Death of a family member (in the past), some brief mentions of homophobia.
While reading this, I fully expected it to be a 5 star read for me, and then the last 30% happened and I was completely lost. But first up I am going to talk about the really great things about this book.
Number one (and the selling point for me) was the diversity. This is marketed as a “reverse parent-trap” but with two gay dads, after reading that I hit request straight away. Also, our main characters, Bett and Avery. Avery and her dad are Jewish and Bett and her dad are African-American.
Another thing I loved was how the authors made Bett and Averys’ voices so distinctive. They are like chalk and cheese and it was so easy to tell them apart. Avery is more bookish, she is quiet and a worrier, she has fears and gets anxious, which she calls “excessive fears”. Whereas Bett is more adventurous, outgoing and loud. The bond these two characters form is truly amazing and so heartwarming.
I loved the discussions the two of them had together, how open they were with each other. I was laughing throughout most of this book.
This novel is told entirely through emails, letters, text messages etc, which normally I am not a fan of, but I thought the authors done a terrific job with this and I don’t think it could have worked any other way.
However, towards the end is where everything went a little downhill for me personally. I was fully expecting this to end happily, just like The Parent Trap. But around the 70% mark things just started getting a bit, I feel like I can only describe it as messy. Time started skipping more frequently, Marlow and Sam (the dads) were in new relationships with new people, they lived miles apart from each other and at that point, I just knew this wasn’t going to end the way I thought it would. To be honest, I don’t think I even understood the ending, it came out of nowhere and it was really abrupt and just left me hanging. It’s no secret that I am a sucker for a happy ending, so maybe that’s just me.
Another thing that confused me was that, towards the end, the authors started incorporating new perspectives of people who had no bearing to the story.
Overall, this is a great MG novel with some absolutely fantastic diverse elements, but in the end, it just wasn’t for me personally.