Reviewed for this blog by Sara, Simsbury Library
I picked this book up because it was advertised as a book for those who have loved Eleanor & Park. Like No Other shares a story of two teens who fall in love and could never, ever be together.
Devorah is a good girl who has never challenged her strict Hasidic upbringing. Never allowed to be in the same room alone with a male, not even family, never mind actually date. Her family will choose her future husband, someone from the same community, and they will fall in love after they marry.
Jaxon is a black, book-smart, nerd who experiences normal teenage stuff: stress from his parents to get into college, care for his younger sisters, and balance time at school, work, and with friends.
Devorah and Jaxon get stuck in an elevator together at the hospital when the power goes out during a hurricane. After this meeting and the fact that they both can’t stop thinking about each other, Devorah and Jax arrange secret meetings and risk everything to be together.
LaMarche does a great job of making the reader want to know what happens to these forbidden lovers. I, however, wanted the story to move along more quickly than it did. Do they really have to almost get caught numerous times? Do they not realize that someone will catch onto their lies? Why have they not just run away already if they really know they want to be together?
Eleanor & Park is a unique love story with much more character, quirkiness, and storyline than Like No Other. I would say the only thing they have in common is that they are about a couple that can “never be together” and with both stories you want to fight for them until the very end.
So does this have what it takes to win the Printz award? Like No Other definitely focuses on diverse teens (I’ve never read about a Hasidic teen before!) and the information seemed accurate (but I don’t know anything about the Hasidic community to say that anything was inaccurate) and it is obvious the author did research into her characters. As far as “literary excellence” goes, this plot has been done a million times. To really stand out, these characters had to become so personal that I would want to invite them to my home but this book didn’t do it for me.