Happy Valentine’s Day! Okay, for this week’s “Old Favorite” I’m cheating. Megan Meade’s Guide to the McGowan Boys isn’t really that old (2005) but…it’s so perfect for this week that I couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather write about. And it definitely is a favorite. So…Here we go. Megan Meade’s Guide to the McGowan Boys, by Kate Brian.
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Megan Meade is happy at Fort Hood. Her parents have finally stopped their lifetime of traveling from army base to army base and settled down for good. Megan has spent three consecutive years at Fort Hood, a record in her wandering life. She’s making good grades, she’s on the state championship soccer team, she has her learner’s permit, she has a best friend named Tracey and she’s finally worked up the courage to talk to Ben, the guy she’d love to date, right before the start of her junior year. She’s *happy*!
And then her parents sit her down and announce that her Dad has earned another transfer. To South Korea. For two whole years.
Megan, for the first time in her life, puts her foot down. She refuses to go. She even has a bit of a temper tantrum, something that she’s never done before. Her parents offer a compromise; she can to go Boston and stay with her father’s med school roommate, John McGowan, and his family. Megan still will be changing schools and locations, but she’ll still able to join a championship soccer team, and she can live in one place for the two years and finish high school in the U.S.
The drawback? John McGowan has sons. Lots of sons. And Megan doesn’t exactly have the best memories from their previous meetings. When they were kids, the boys were one unidentifiable group, who had sticky faces and missing teeth. They lassoed her to a tree, hung her upside down, had worms in their pockets and pulled her hair. Megan at sixteen is barely able to talk to boys, but now she’s supposed to live with seven of them? Still, soccer. And living stateside. And high school!
When she meets them again, Megan finds that the McGowan boys have grown up a lot since she last saw them. They’re…gorgeous. There’s Evan, who once blew snot bubbles at her and hit her over the head with a wiffle bat but who now looks like an Olympic god. There’s Finn, who’s in her class, also a Greek god, and an artist. There’s Sean, the mysterious brooder who works on bikes and is in a band. Doug, who looks like the second coming of Eminem. Miller, the sports fan. And Ian and Caleb, the two youngest, the only ones who won’t be in the high school with Megan and the older brothers. The seem to be a little more like the boys she remembers, but they’re still cute. Maybe it won’t be that bad?
But real life drops Megan right in the middle of boy chaos, and she finds that the McGowans haven’t grown up enough. Megan’s first morning with includes dropping her bathroom supplies in front of the older boys and getting teased, finding all her t-shirts defaced with anatomical drawings and having her bra stolen by the younger boys. Megan revises her opinion; the McGowans are monsters!
Megan’s e-mails to her friend Tracey start to include observations on the McGowans. It’s the only way to keep her sanity!
When Megan starts the school year, she does find out that there are advantages and disadvantages to having seven ready-made brothers. From soccer to assignments to parties and friends, the McGowans are everywhere she turns, in the house and outside of it. Only Megan discovers that she really doesn’t want to think of them as brothers, because any way you look at it, those McGowan boys are hot. So she makes her observations to Tracy and learns everything there is to know about boys. Or so she thinks…
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Megan Meade’s Guide to the McGowan Boys is funny and touching, and exasperating and full of truths. It’s a great read about boys and girls and the differences between them, about brothers and about what makes a good boy friend. Or maybe, a good boyfriend. Also soccer and girl friends and sisters and friendship. (And if you’re a girl who doesn’t have brothers, this is a “must-read”.)
Kate Brian is the author of the Private series and the Privilege series. She’s written several other books that are popular, among them Sweet 16, The V Club, and Lucky T. Her newest book, Shadowlands, about two sisters who have to go into the Witness Protection program, just came out in January. Kate Brian is a pseudonym, and under her real name, Kieran Scott has written several other titles, including the I Was a Non-Blonde Cheerleader trilogy and She’s So Dead to Us series.
There’s not much history to Megan Meade’s Guide to the McGowan Boys, since it’s not even ten years old. There’s only one cover, even! When we did our most popular teen checkouts for the past ten years, it came out in the top 75, right before A Wrinkle in Time. That may be because our staff recommends it frequently, but it might also be because most of the teens who read it recommend it to friends. It’s has huge word-of-mouth popularity.
There is some frank (and funny) discussion between Megan and Tracey about the motivations behind boys’ behavior. There’s also several scenes on the consequences of “hooking up” at a high school party, and a bit of drinking, but nothing graphic. Still, for those reasons, this is probably more appropriate for upper middle school and high school readers.
So if we’re snowed in again this winter, or if you want a fun Valentine’s Day read, grab Megan Meade’s Guide to the McGowan Boys. See if you like it as much as we all do.