This One Time With Julia

This One Time With Julia by David Lampson
David Lampson
Penguin Young Readers
Release Date:

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Age Level
Young Adult

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Flamingnet Student Book Reviewer  MDG
Joe hasn't had an easy life. His parents were killed in a car crash when he was five and he was raised by his older brother. Besides that, Joe also has developmental disabilities that have prevented him from becoming a functioning member of society. He can't read and has limited cognitive abilities, so he's not sure what to make of his twin brother's disappearance. But when Alvin's ex- girlfriend Julia shows up, he decides to accompany her back to Tennessee and work at her family's hotel. It is here that Joe discovers the truth about Alvin's disappearance and just how much Julia's family is involved.

This One Time With Julia was a lot different from other books I've read, and unfortunately I did not enjoy it that much. The only character I sympathized with was Joe because he seemed very genuine and sweet. But he was so unobservant that it made him an unreliable narrator. It was hard to get into the story when the main character doesn't even really know what's going on. I didn't like any of the other characters, and none of them were developed beyond a few superficial characters. A lot of them just seemed like a caricatures of people. I didn't care for the plot, as there was a lot of telling about events and not showing them. For example, Joe discovers the truth about Alvin's disappearance via a ghost/hallucination. The only good thing about This One Time With Julia is that it's a short and easy read.

Reviewer Age:20

Reviewer City, State and Country: Aston, Pennsylvania United States

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Flamingnet Student Book Reviewer  ALue
Joe is the simple-minded and often bizarre twin where Alvin is the more adventurous and imaginative of the two. Joe is thrust into a much more complicated life when Alvin disappears and finds himself driving from Los Angeles to Tennessee with Julia, Alvins enigmatic girlfriend. Joes new life involves expensive pin-striped suits, hotel swimming pools, and Julias mysterious family. His whirlwind of events almost makes him forget what happened to his brotherᆲalmost. It is only with his newly found responsibilities that he acquires a curiosity surrounding what happened between Alvin and Julia, and the more time he spends with Julia, the deeper he falls in love with her.

While there are some hopeful elements throughout the novel, I finished the book feeling much like the protagonist, Joe, in a wishy-washy state wondering what I took away from this experience. The first two thirds of the book moved much slower than I expected. Much of the synopsis alludes to a mystery/thriller type story, but the pace only merits this distinction in the final chapters. Even when the climax is reached, it falls short of any expectations built up over the course of the story. Joes dull nature even puts the reader in a daze, and supporting characters do not add much to the story. One bright spot is the beautiful, but destructive Julia. She is a mystery that the reader never fully understands, and this element added a level of intrigue to the otherwise lackluster plot. Despite the notable journey Joe has embarked on, I did not believe that his outlook genuinely changed, and this ultimately is the downfall of This One Time With Julia.

Reviewer Age:22

Reviewer City, State and Country: Eden Prairie, Minnesota United States


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