Who makes up our family? Is it just people who have biological connections to us? Can our friends become family?
Love is at the center of The Best Man, but it’s not just the people getting married at the beginning and end of this book who are experiencing it. Archer grows to love his friend Lynette, although she’s bossy and opinionated (and often right!), even though it’s not cool to be friends with a girl in the social world of sixth grade. Archer loves his family, especially his quirky dad, his creative grandpa, and his sports fan uncle. He even admires his student teacher. They are the “best” men Archer aspires to be someday.
What’s beautiful about this book is the simple way daily life for Archer is both full of drama we can all understand and an ongoing testament to the love he and the other characters have for each other. It’s normal. It just is what it is. For kids who don’t have that at home for whatever reason, it’s a glimpse into what a healthy family life can be.
It’s no surprise that Richard Peck does such a masterful job of putting Archer’s voice into this story. Everything he writes lifts the ordinary to a higher level, making it seem lovely and special and light and even funny. His characters fill your brain; you feel their confusion and know their pain, but you also sense the joy they carry inside. The fact that Archer is going to be in a wedding for two men might have been shocking even ten years ago, but it’s also ordinary now in a simple and beautiful way. Love is love is love is love.
The Best Man, Richard Peck