I read the book Smiles To Go by Jerry Spinelli for my quarter four independent reading book. I believe that the main conflict of this book would be the main character, Will Tuppence, dealing with his feelings about his best friend Mi-Su. The cause of this conflict starts at a star party. Will finds his two best friends, Mi-Su and BT kissing. This is when Will begins to think about how he feels about Mi-Su. I think that one of the obstacles that lead to this conflict are how Mi-Su feels about both BT and Will: she thinks of them both in a friendly way, not in a romantic way. Also, Will’s younger sister Tabby, teases him about Mi-Su and BT. The most exciting part of this plot is when Will realizes how important he is to his sister. This is the start of the resolving of the conflict. The conflict is resolved after Tabby gets out of the hospital after her accident. Will realizes that he is very grateful to have a good friend like Mi-Su and they are best off as friends. This is not what I had expected to happen because I thought that he and Mi-Su would end up together based on how much Will liked her. The setting of this book is a small, suburban neighborhood. This is very similar to my own neighborhood. From how Will describes it, his neighborhood seems like a very friendly place. It is green and flowery in the summer. Also, another part of the setting is Dead Man’s Hill. Dead Man’s Hill is a super steep hill that is gravel covered and very scary. This hill causes Tabby’s accident. I could really picture the steepness of this hill because Will described it as “unpaved, stony, rutted, [and] twisting.” (22) These reminded me of the alley behind my house which helped me created a clear visual of what the hill would look like.
An important symbol in the book would be black jelly beans. These jelly beans are Will’s favorite, so Tabby will throw them, one by one, into the garbage can in front of him. Even though Will thinks she does it to irritate him, these jelly beans actually represent Tabby’s love for Will. Will learns later that Tabby wipes every jelly bean off and stores them to do the process all over again. They will be Will’s birthday present. The events in this book greatly affected some of the characters. After Tabby’s accident, Will changes to become the loving and caring older brother he has never been. He learns how important his sister is to him and how important he is to her. Although, I believe that BT did not change at all through this book. He had the same actions and emotions that he did in the beginning of the book. One of Will’s questionable actions in this book would definitely be when he decided to rip open the extremely old wedding gifts. He was just upset about Tabby, so he started to act like her. This action he will live to regret. I decided to compare Mi-Su and BT. Both of these characters care a lot about Will and are friendly to him but they are also different. BT lives life spontaneously and his actions sometimes seem random, while Mi-Su’s actions all seem to have a meaning.
I think that a very important passage would be when Will finally realizes how important he is to Tabby. ““You know what she wants? More than anything?” I shook my head. “She wants to be just like you. Her big brother.” She hugged my arm. “Do you even know what color her eyes are, Will? Do you?”” (222) This is important because this is when Will begins to change as a character. It is amazing to see how different he is from the beginning of the book, to the end. This passage is the start of that change. I think that I could compare this book to Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen. In both of these books, the main characters don’t realize the importance of their sibling. Only at the end, do they realize how much they need this person in their lives.
While reading, I did not find any words that I didn’t understand or not know the meaning. When I read the part about how Will had to leave the chess tournament when he was winning, it made me very angry. I am a very competitive person, and I really sided with Will. He is just about to win a game of chess that will move him into the finals when his Dad forces him to forfeit because his sister was in an accident. Even though his sister is seriously hurt, Will doesn’t want to quit. I know that in his situation, I would have done the same thing and that’s why I got upset at this part. What I liked especially about this book was that it was very straightforward and clear. I did not find any particular part confusing. If I could ask Jerry Spinelli one question about this book, it would be this: Why did Will throw Black Viper away? I understand that he was angry, but this skateboard has been one of his most prized possessions so it just made me wonder. I would recommend that people should read this book. It really opened my eyes about my sister. I have always thought that my sister’s job in life was to annoy me in any way possible. But I learned through this book that she does these things because she wants to be like me and get my attention. This book in general was a great learning experience in that sense. Also, this book has an interesting plot with its unexpected surprises. It will definitely keep you interested.