In the Garage by Alma Fullerton
Publisher: Red Door Press
Release Date: October 12, 2006
Basic Plot: Barbara Jean Belanger (BJ) and Alex Fitzgerald have been best friends since elementary school; and a more mismatched pair is not known in town. Alex is talented, athletic, handsome, intelligent, and popular; BJ is talented and intelligent, overweight and has a large birthmark on her face that has caused her to be the subject of much ridicule for most of her life. Since meeting up in third grade, the two have been each other’s greatest supporters, but that changes after an incident when BJ betrays Alex’s trust by stealing his journal. After reading his journal, BJ comes to realize how much Alex needs her friendship, but then, somehow the journal goes missing and ends up in the hands of people who would destroy them both.
UGH – this book makes me want to scream from beginning to end. I should preface this by saying – I LOVED this story. Fullerton combined so many emotions into this story that I felt as if I were on a roller coaster – but it was a great ride!
BJ has had an awful childhood – her mother – what an awful woman – basically abandons her in a car. But before she walks away from her daughter, the woman leaves her with emotional scars that could rival most of the characters in Oprah’s Book Club picks. (Maybe it’s my maternal instinct kicking in, but I seriously despised BJs mom – thank God Fullerton got rid of her early on – the woman was a witch who did not deserve to have a child.) So, BJ gets taken care of by her dad and grandmother and eventually, Alex.
Now, this is not a spoiler (because it happens in the first two pages) so I can tell you that something happens to Alex. Alex is a golden boy – there is no doubt about that. He has all the qualities most parents dream of for their children and, here’s the kicker – he is a NICE person. (Have you noticed that almost all the golden boys and girls in teen lit are nasty little people?) But, nothing he does measures up in his dad’s eyes – even though he’s a top student and key athlete, his dad wants him to always do and be more. AND, his father despises the fact that Alex is in a garage band. So, here we have this NICE person who just wants to “be” and who really relies on his friend BJ to be his rock. Add to the mix two very popular girls who have an interest in Alex and are very disturbed by his lack of response to his advances. Stir in mischief when these girls somehow convince BJ to steal Alex’s very private & personal journal. THEN, throw in David, an amazing vocalist who sings in Alex’s band, is gay and is inextricably attracting Alex – in short, you have what seems to be a mess but is really a story that pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until the end when you are staring at the page in disbelief and then crying. It’s an exhausting book that was so worth the effort.