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’t—or 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.
About the Author
Hillary Frank is a freelance writer and illustrator. Her novel, Better Than Running at Night, was named a 2003 Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association and a Top 10 First Youth Novel by Booklist. Her radio stories have aired on a variety of public radio programs, including This American Life, Morning Edition, Marketplace, Studio 360, and Chicago Matters.
Ultimately, the novel's engaging jumble of correspondence amounts to a study of vulnerability, tentatively concluding that, when it comes to romance, playing it safe can be a risky approach.
The insight Jake gains from his self-imposed silve is satisfying, if not entirely profound. The insights readers will gain, however, are perhaps deeper, as Frank manages to convey a credible boy's-eye view on matters of the heart.
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
All in all, the author creates a story both clever and heartfelt.
The creafully constructed, seemingly accidental nature of Jake and Xandra's story combines the banal with the amateur pholisophizing of college, and invites interesting comparisons between sexual sophistication and real understanding of how to relate with others.
Frank's experiment is fascinating.