When Nina comes back, it doesn’t take her long to realise that her best friends are now more than friends. Missing her summer boy and feeling left out by her friends, Nina’s having a little trouble adjusting to the triangle’s new dynamic.
Turns out, she’s not the only one.
Behold, the power of the would-be book banners. For some reason, I have spent the last year fully aware that many, many people believe Maureen Johnson to be wholly awesome… but not reading any of her books. Then earlier this month, I decided I would read a few ‘challenged’ YA novels in celebration of Banned Books Week. Whilst browsing the internet for inspiration, I stumbled upon Maureen Johnson’s blog post here about the removal of The Bermudez Triangle from a school library in Oklahoma, where a parent had objected to the book because it contains scenes where two girls kiss, references to underage drinking, and (they felt) reckless promiscuity. As it’s not the only occasion where this book has been challenged, I figured I’d read it and see what all the fuss was about.
The Bermudez Triangle is a bittersweet story about what happens to friendship when other feelings come along and mix everything up. Because it’s about a triangle, it goes beyond what happens to Mel and Avery’s friendship, and into the effect that their hook-up has on Nina too. And also because it’s about a triangle, there’s no bad guy (or girl) - just three protagonists with different points of view that are all valid, and that all inspire a whole lot of empathy, but happen to cause each other a whole lot of heartache.
I started out this book knowing which girl my sympathy was with the most in this scenario, but by the end of it I’d been put in each of their heads enough to really see things from the other two points of view. Sure, I’d got a little mad at them all at some stage along the way, but this book is a journey. If all that sounds a little too serious, I can assure you that The Bermudez Triangle is extremely readable. It’s also funny, the dialogue is deliciously snappy, and it has an ending that's feel-good without being feel-nauseous.
Yes, there are a few scenes where Mel and Avery kiss. There are also scenes where other people kiss. And a whole lot of scenes where nobody kisses anyone, and maybe one or two where a few characters under 21 have a few drinks. All said scenes are excellent, compelling, and real in the kind of way that I always hope people mean when they say a book is real, but rarely have found to be the case.
I’ll say it again. Behold, the power of the would-be book banners. They know where the good stuff is.