Lois Lowry’s “Anastasia” books are always solidly fun for me to read (or re-read): humorous realistic middle-grade fiction with some moments of nostalgia for late-twentieth-century New England. (In this one, Anastasia and her friends drink milkshakes at Friendly’s, and Anastasia gets her ears pierced at Jordan Marsh.) Anyway: this is also the one where Anastasia (who is 13) answers a personals ad in the New York Review of Books placed by a “SWM, 28” who has “boyish charm” and “inherited wealth” and is ” looking for tall young woman, nonsmoker, to share Caribbean vacations, reruns of Casablanca, and romance.” All of this sounds pretty good to Anastasia, though clearly she isn’t entirely thinking things through. As you can imagine, her (repeated) letters to this guy are quite funny, and have humorous/awkward consequences.

Meanwhile, Anastasia and her best friends have all decided to give up the “pursuit of boys” because surely there are better things they could be doing with their time. Anastasia feels guilty for not telling her friends that she is still pursuing a man, but she doesn’t have too long to feel bad: they’re all soon caught up in preparations for her friend Meredith’s sister’s wedding, at which Meredith, Anastasia, and their friends Daphne and Sonya are all going to be “junior bridesmaids”.

The two plot lines come together in a way that Anastasia definitely does not anticipate, and the whole thing is quite an entertaining romp. And it’s always fun to read about the interactions between Anastasia and her parents and her little brother Sam: at one point in this one Anastasia is dismayed at seeing her dad, an accomplished literature professor, “helping a three-year-old dig a tunnel through a potato as if it were the most important enterprise in the world.” (Another funny moment of dismay: Anastasia’s dad is appalled when her mom says this about War and Peace: “I only read the peace parts. I jumped from one peace part to the next. I never read the war parts.”)

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