Title: The Last Boy at St. Edith’s
Author: Lee Gjertsen Malone
Recommended for: 5th or 6th grade and up
Call Number/Link: J FICTION MALONE, L.
Synopsis: There used to be 27 boys at St. Edith’s Academy, but one by one they all left, leaving seventh grader Jeremy with 475 classmates—all girls. His best friends are sarcastic Claudia and prim Emily. He even lives with all girls—two sisters and his single mother. Jeremy becomes desperate to find out how his life could be different if he had even one guy friend. But to do that, he needs to go to another school. How can he get kicked out of St. Edith’s without completely damaging his chances of getting a good high school scholarship? Claudia has the answer in one word, pranks. Soon Jeremy is caught in a web of lies and pranks gone awry. Ultimately, he realizes that although he doesn’t have a single male friend at school, he has wonderful friends (who just happen to be girls) and St. Edith’s might actually be pretty great. Set in western Massachusetts, this realistic novel is grounded in the relationships between the convincingly flawed but emotionally and intellectually compelling characters. The clever dialogue is humorous yet believable. Several characters belong to a film club, and there are frequent references to films and filmmaking, which are accessible to cinema buffs and newbies alike. Short chapters and growing urgency as the pranks and stakes rise keep the plot moving quickly.
I really liked this book. It’s funny, the characters are really well developed and it examines middles school relationships without being serious or preachy. Jeremy’s mom is a single parent and because she works at St. Edith’s, her children get a tuition break. Jeremy understands why his mom wants him to stay at St. Edith’s instead of going to a sketchy public school, but the odds are definitely not in his favor. He feels that the only way out is to get expelled. When his pranks cause damage and injury he eventually sees who his real friends are. This is not as goofy funny as ‘Wimpy Kid’ but the kids are funny and snarky and yet still realistic. I would really recommend it for fans of the funny middle school ‘genre’. It rises above the rest of the pack.