The Best Man

The Best Man

Book - 2016
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Newbery Medalist Richard Peck tells a story of small-town life, gay marriage, and everyday heroes in this novel for fans of Gary Schmidt and Jack Gantos.

Archer Magill has spent a lively five years of grade school with one eye out in search of grown-up role models. Three of the best are his grandpa, the great architect; his dad, the great vintage car customizer,; and his uncle Paul, who is just plain great. These are the three he wants to be. Along the way he finds a fourth--Mr. McLeod, a teacher. In fact, the first male teacher in the history of the school.

But now here comes middle school and puberty. Change. Archer wonders how much change has to happen before his voice does. He doesn't see too far ahead, so every day or so a startling revelation breaks over him. Then a really big one when he's the best man at the wedding of two of his role models. But that gets ahead of the story.

In pages that ripple with laughter, there's a teardrop here and there. And more than a few insights about the bewildering world of adults, made by a boy on his way to being the best man he can be.
Publisher: New York, NY : Dial Books for Young Readers, [2016]
ISBN: 9780803738393
0803738390
Branch Call Number: j F PECK R
Characteristics: 232 pages ; 22 cm

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IndyPL_SteveB Dec 28, 2018

A very funny and wise – and somewhat controversial – novel aimed at readers about 4th-6th grade level.

Archer Magill attended his first wedding as a first grader. He was a ring bearer and it was a funny disaster. In 5th grade things really get interesting when the class gets a student teacher, who arrives in military uniform fresh from his National Guard duty. The class flips over him. Eventually Archer discovers that his handsome but curiously unmarried uncle has also flipped for the student teacher. Archer had not figured out that his uncle was gay. The student teacher comes out to the school class to help prevent another student from being bullied. Romance for the uncle and the teacher might be in the future; but it’s confusing for Archer. Still, he has four male role models in his life, all of whom influence him in different positive ways: his father, grandfather, uncle, and the new teacher.

Peck handles this situation in a gentle, humorous way, from a 5th-6th grader’s point of view. He loads the book with funny situations and characters, from a fancy Halloween party to a teacher who can merely look at a computer and cause it to malfunction. The word “sex” is never mentioned in any context; but “love” is. It is not remotely “pushy” about any message, just matter-of-fact in its tone.

stplchildren Aug 03, 2017

I'm only giving it three stars because I felt like the last part of the book was confusing and the characters that are introduced toward the end are a bit bizarre, stereotypical, and contrived. I think the plot would have worked without them. However, I did enjoy this warm and funny school and family story. Archer is a great kid and has a wonderful family. He's a lucky guy to have so many strong role models in his life. I also loved bossy Lynnette.

JCLChrisK Jun 19, 2017

An excellent book about the relationships between strong characters of strong character and Archer's aspirations to become one of them. Amusing, entertaining, and wise.

c
ChristineSuarez
Apr 13, 2017

a very adventurous story,your thoughts travel from west side elamentary school to Wrigley feild and last but not least a middle school.(the name of the middle school i forgot,but you get the point,right?) well it is a fun & rich story. and your always rooting for the good guy.

ArapahoeBetsy Jan 27, 2017

Fabulous new story from a favorite author. Grounded by strong family ties, fifth grader Archer Magill's matter-of-fact assessments about school, life, friendship, and role models are truly refreshing. He's kind and open-minded, allowing the author to make subtle social commentary without being preachy. Complex issues are tackled directly and with a good dose of humor.

mandaladreamer Jan 19, 2017

I thought this book was excellent. The youngsters in this book are thoughtful and observant, and the older adults who are their good examples show caring and guidance as all the characters navigate through different kinds of relationships. Nothing sugar-coated in this book, especially the aspects of bullying among students, the issues surrounding the characters who are gay, and the death of the grandfather.

b
brangwinn
Jan 09, 2017

I loved this coming of age story. Archer is a clueless kid who finds himself surrounded by three great men, his dad, his grandpa and his uncle. I’ve always enjoyed Peck’s books, and it’s been a long time since I laughed out loud reading a book. I laughed a lot in this book. Peck has done a marvelous job in showing that you don’t have to be the smartest or the most athletic to become a thoughtful adult who will lead a meaningful life.

j
joywolf83
Nov 22, 2016

Very expositional. DNF @120 of 230

Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Oct 19, 2016

I really liked this book, but did not absolutely adore it as others have. While I very much appreciated it as a whole (the loving family, the perfectly imperfect community, the casual yet fully supportive representation of gay marriage, the beautifully structured plot, most of the humor…) some of the events (particularly in the beginning of the book) seemed so exaggerated that I just could not believe them, and for me, that is a problem when reading realistic fiction. But with all of that being said, I’m an adult and this book was written for kids and I can totally see them adoring it, so in my mind, it’s a winner regardless of my issues with it. Plus I completely teared up at the end from loving the love so much. Ok… so maybe I really, REALLY liked it.

p
pattyloucor67
Oct 05, 2016

Loved this middle school book! Richard Peck has written a modern day "Henry Huggins" story - updated with characters that are real for today's society. The novel deals very appropriately with homosexuality - not smarmy, not preachy, but REAL - and loss of a grandparent. I loved it even more because it happens in Chicago, Wrigley Field, Lake Geneva, and even Council Bluff, IA. Bravo Richard Peck!

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MissLacie Jan 03, 2017

Two Weddings
One gay uncle
One witty best friend (that's a GIRL)
One National Guard student teacher
and a whole bunch of complicated adult relationships
Archer takes us on an hilarious ride through friends, bullies, family and a world as seen through the eyes of a wise cracking middle schooler growing up in the suburbs of Chicago. (Oh, BTW Go Cubs Go!)

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