Narrator Ellen learns about love, family and "society's unwritten rules" in this sophisticated but gentle novel set in Manhattan. Ellen adores her older brother, Link, and has had a crush on Link's best friend, James, since seventh grade. But at 14, when she starts high school, popular classmate Adena, who really likes Link, mentions to Ellen: "They're like a couple, aren't they?" Freymann-Weyr (When I Was Older) subtly and authentically follows Ellen's thought process as the question triggers a series of responses: "I resolve never to ask them. Ever. I resolve to put it out of my mind. There is no reason for me to know." Yet Ellen reviews their past behavior for clues. When Ellen finally frames the question to Link and James ("I spear a cherry with an unused fork... and ask if they are a couple"), Link denies it, avoids James and gets a girlfriend. Ellen and James, meanwhile, grow closer. As their relationship becomes physical, some inconsistencies surface (e.g., why, if Ellen is so loyal to her brother, would she "date" James?). But the sensitivity with which the author handles the issues of whom one loves and complexities more far-reaching than sexual concerns outweigh these minor matters. Ellen relates telling details about herself and those around her with humor and compassion, exposing the many dimensions of her parents as well as the three featured teens. A thoughtful approach to the many confusing signals that accompany awakening sexuality. (Publisher's Weekly)
Garret gives an overview of the book:
Garret Freymann-Weyr was born in New York City, and went to college at UNC Chapel Hill and NYU. Her first novel, "Pretty Girls" is (mercifully) out of print; unfortunately, so is her best Young Adult novel, "The Kings Are Already Here". She has written...