This YA book is a place of joy. It’s about love in its purest sense - friends, siblings, parents, community. It took me a minute to figure out what B’More is (a.k.a. Smalltimore), so I was thinking of it as “be more,” which actually works. Harrison is on the cusp of “big choices - classes, tests, college, literally the rest of his life” when his best friend, Linus, drops the news that he’s moving to Charleston in a few days. Harrison, who loves a plan, is devastated that he and Linus won’t be doing all the things (classes, tests, college, and the rest of their lives) together. So Harrison enlists the help of his high school theater’s stage manager, Aparna - who not only loves a plan but excels at planning - to devise an adventurous final day together so that Linus will never forget Harrison. Basically, Harrison and Linus spend their last day together learning to B e More. Of course everything goes wrong, but does it?
R. Eric Thomas’s writing is bright, relevant, observant, smart and fun. He knows his audience and crafted an engaging story that delivers a message without being preachy. My only negative critique of the book is that it’s confusing when the story switches third person perspectives between Harrison and Linus. Their voices are so similar, and it usually took several paragraphs for my brain to catch up. I enjoyed the subplot written in first person by Aparna, as she tries to keep the day on track and has her own adventure. Rich dialogue drives the story forward, interspersed with observant descriptions to round it out. I truly felt like I went on a journey with these boys, as my heart broke for them and then filled with love. Like Harrison’s mother says, “Your heart will break in this life, but when it does break, I hope every crack makes more space inside for love.”