Jorge Ruiz is bigger than most of his classmates, but he uses his powers for good and helps keep the peace in the halls of Berrybrook Middle School, which, despite its utopian-esque levels of diversity and vibrant club-driven atmosphere, still has a bullying problem. Of course it does, because middle school. Anyway, Jorge is a decent guy and loves hanging out with his two best friends, but one day as he's musing about how complicated life is getting with everyone else pairing off and breaking up, he can't get his mind off of Jazmin.
This is a deceptively simple story about crushing, love, and friendship. I have zero criticism. Chmakova has a way of balancing her characters and making a tight story out of the swirling, hormonal chaos that is middle school. She focuses on a few characters and realistic problems and captures something special. I mean, I hated middle school and yet this made me remember some of those fleeting moments of dizzy happiness. 'Crush' is sweet. I also appreciated how the crisis aspects of the storyline were resolved this time around. In 'Brave' Jensen's problems were solved, but in a way that left a bad taste in my mouth. This felt like a more responsible and realistic way to deal with behavior problems.
Berrybrook Middle School