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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that like the first book in this series, Cycler, this novel deals with themes of sexuality, gender, and relationships. There are sexual situations with descriptions (including mentions of teens trading partners and rating them and a girl trying to lose her virginity), lots of teen drinking, some swearing ("s--t" and "damn"), and very mild violence by way of a fist fight.
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What's the story?
Jack and Jill inhabit the same body, well Jill gets it for most of the month and for four days a month Jack has a turn. This can make for some pretty sticky situations as most people aren't willing to accept a girl that turns into a guy when most girls just get their period. Jill had a "Jack episode" at prom and decided it was best to leave her small town for the Big Apple with her best friend Ramie, who happens to be Jack's girlfriend. Trying to find her way in a big city, coping with Jack's needs, and missing Tommy, her bisexual boyfriend, Jill has a lot on her plate. Will she ever find a way to be true to both sides of herself, her friendship, and her relationship with Tommy?
Is it any good?
After the action-packed, brain-twisting first novel, Cycler fans may be disappointed in (RE)CYCLER. Author Lauren McLaughlin still incorporates a wicked, witty voice to the piece as seen through the eyes of both Jack and Jill, but some of the sheen has rubbed off of this one. The book mainly centers around Jill's dating issues and mundane existence. Jack is struggling to find a place in a world he only exists for four days a month, while trying to maintain his relationship with Ramie. There are some intriguing characters and events that do perk the novel up in places, but the majority of this book feels like it's just a segue to the next one in the series.
The ending is open with plenty of possibilities of the next book, however, many readers will likely wish McLaughlin had finished this one first. True fans will hang on in hopes of a third book while those new to the series might want to start with the first one -- or they'll be as gender-confused as Jack and Jill.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about gender. What traits are attributed to each gender? Are these absolutes? Which ones are stereotypes?
How do you feel about Jill's journey to losing her virginity? How do feel about the advice her friends have given her? What advice would you give?
Jane and Ramie's friendship changes throughout the novel. How do you deal with changes in your friendships? What mistakes have you made? How have you learned from them?
For kids who love coming of age stories and romance
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