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Monday, May 08, 2017

The Best Man by Richard Peck

The Best ManOkay, so I'm go to preface with stating that I am a huge Richard Peck fan.  I think it all started when I he visited my local library.  I loved listening to his stories and I still continue to love to read his books.

The Best Man features the life of Archer from the summer before first grade until the summer of sixth grade.  He lives in a suburb outside of Chicago with a great family unit (his grandparents live directly behind him).  His grandfather is an architect who designed the buildings in the town he lives in, including the school he attends.  Archer's dad restores classic cards and enjoys cooking and his mother is  marriage counselor.  His older sister Holly, is going through that difficult teenager stage (throughout the whole book).  He also has a loving Uncle Paul who works for the  Chicago Cubs (but they hadn't won the World Series before the book was published).

The book begins with a wedding and ends with a wedding.  In the first wedding, Archer meets his future best friend and protector, Lynette.  Every year brings different teachers, challenges and classic cars into Archer's life.  One year is extremely difficult as his grandfather has a stroke, his teacher leaves to have a baby, Lynette's mom becomes the substitute and then he has a student teacher, Mr. McLeod, who will change his life and the life of family member.  Mr. McLeod defends a student who has been attacked in the bathroom and had "gay" written on his forehead.  He reveals that he is gay which delightedly didn't make a difference to any of his students. 

The story doesn't have a lot of action but it's just a wonderful view into a life of a boy growing up in a very loving family environment with some very strong male role models.  It was so refreshing to see a family that truly cares for one another and stands by each other.  A main talking point of the book will be when Archer realizes his Uncle Paul is gay but this is not the main point of the story.   Even at the end of the story when Uncle Paul gets married, it is done in a supportive and accepting way.

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