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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
To the Top of Greenfield Street is a coming of age novel for young adults written by Ryan Standley. It was June and summer should have been Eric’s next opportunity to shed his chubby-boy image through hours of basketball and healthy eating. But this June was different. The house that he and his dad lived in, complete with his dad’s pizzeria on the first floor, had burnt down. After the fire, he and his dad moved to a room in a hotel while his dad looked for a job, but there was nothing. Finally, their funds almost all gone, they drove to Freeport, Illinois to stay with family friends, the Garcias. Nate Garcia was Eric’s age and was his oldest friend, and Manny Garcia had hired Eric’s dad for as long as he needed. While it had been a while since the two friends had seen each other, they soon fell into the easy camaraderie of years back. Freeport, Illinois was different somehow. The kids there didn’t see a young fat boy to be bullied and laughed at. Eric had a chance -- this might be his summer after all.
Ryan Standley’s To the Top of Greenfield Street had me realizing once again why the genre is one of my all-time favorites. Eric’s transformational time spent on Greenfield Street is breathtaking, even at the remove of being a reader rather than an actual witness to a real-life story. Standley sets his tale in the summer of 1993, a pivotal time considering the internet and tech explosion that would soon be changing life as we knew it then. I loved re-experiencing the music and culture of the time and seeing the story unfold historically. While an experienced writer of news articles, this is Ryan Standley’s debut novel, and it’s peopled with characters who are complex, unforgettable, and very true-to-life. I was wrapped up in his story from the first pages until the last and loved every minute I spent on Greenfield Street. To the Top of Greenfield Street is the best coming-of-age novel I’ve read this year, and I’m looking forward to future works by this author. It’s most highly recommended.