The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson
Published: 9-2006 by Penguin/Razorbill
Get the book: Amazon
The Bermudez Triangle are: Nina Bermudez… who TiVos every episode of Trading Spaces and What Not to Wear because watching people rip down bad decorations, cast aside bad clothes—these things soothe her. Avery Dekker… who worships Jack Black but has learned to play Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” by heart just so that she can hate it in detail. Melanie Forrest… (a.k.a. Mel), who inspires guys to develop instantaneous, epic crushes—the kind that cause them to want to iron their clothes and listen to the lyrics of slow songs.
Since coming together at the age of eleven, the Triangle has never been apart. The summer before senior year, however, Nina goes away to a summer program in California. When she returns, she expects to be welcomed back into her friends’ arms with great excitement. Instead, something has changed in the Triangle—Mel and Avery are acting strangely. There are in-jokes Nina doesn’t get, pauses in the conversations that seem to be full of some meaning that she just can’t grasp. She’s suddenly an outsider, and she has no idea why.
Until she wanders into a dressing room and finds Mel and Avery kissing. What exactly do you do when your two best friends in the entire world start dating?
Cover design – Marci Sender Type design – Lauren Monchik Photo – Dana Edmunds Rating – 4/5
I think this cover is great. It’s simple, but still conveys a lot of information about the book. The hearts arranged in a triangle is a simple graphic – even the fact that some of the hearts are upside down reflects the content of the book. The colors and fonts are also simple but classic. I really like the title treatment at the top, with the M and the A knocked a bit out of alignment – which I’m choosing to see as a subtle reference to Mel and Avery.
As I mentioned in my review of The Name of the Star, Maureen Johnson can write about anything. I haven’t read many books where the main characters are gay or bi. Usually anyone not straight is a secondary character, if they’re present at all. This is a book that I would say is mainly about shifts in a close friendship and how the friends deal with those shifts. It’s horrifying to think that there are places where people react to homosexuality like the majority of the Triangle’s classmates.
- Parker – It was easy to love Parker. He was a good friend to both Mel and Nina, even when he knew he wasn’t going to be more than a friend. He was always there when either of them needed a friend, and he was unflinchingly supportive of Mel. If Avery had tried to maintain contact with him, I think Parker would have done his best to hear her out and try to understand her side of things.
- Avery – While sometimes difficult to like, I really appreciated the fact that a character like Avery existed in this book. She’s someone who is unsure about her sexuality and is trying to handle her confusion, the fallout from her relationship with Mel, and the rest of her life all at once. While the people in their school act as if gay people have a communicable disease, Avery is dealing with her growing realization that sexuality isn’t black and white – that maybe she falls somewhere in between gay and straight.
- Nina – I didn’t always agree with her choices, but I felt like I could relate to Nina. Even before she knew what was going on, she returned from an exciting Summer expecting to hang out with her friends and instead landed somewhere unsettled and felt alone and left out. I mean, what are you supposed to do when you feel like a third wheel with your own BFFs? I related to Nina also because she was your typical straight-A overachiever who was really focused on school and easily stressed out. School she knows how to handle, but a huge shift in her friendships completely throws her off.
- Mel – I thought Mel was such a loyal friend – even to Avery. Mel might be a bit dramatic, but there’s a lot going on in her life. I kind of wish Mel had more of a personality though – she mostly just reacts to the things happening in the book. She did stay true to herself even though significant things in her life were shifting. I think she handled losing her best friend and a girlfriend all at once pretty well.
- Avery (again) – It was almost impossible for me to sympathize with or understand Avery. She was extremely inconsiderate of everyone’s feelings. I tried to understand that she was confused and unsure of where she stood with her best friends, but her behavior made it so hard to like her. She acted like she didn’t care about anything, but she was actually really anxious and nervous about her future.
- Steve – Ugh, Nina’s college program boyfriend. They pull one all-nighter together and suddenly she’s in love? She actually says she’s not sure she can breathe without him. This is nuts. She only even knew him for the summer. He found excuses not to be in touch and, despite his whole eco-warrior thing, seemed pretty self-absorbed. Yes, long-distance is tough, but he stopped trying. Then Nina decides she has to apply to Stanford early decision so she can be with him ASAP? Sure, her life at the time was stressful, but pinning your future hopes on a guy isn’t a good way to cope with stress.
- Nina stood frozen to the spot. Avery, as if sensing her presence, turned and looked at her. The slow horror that spread across Avery’s face told the rest of the story. Nina could see the guy clearly now. It was Gaz – some guy Avery hung out with in the music department. Avery got out of the car. She kept her head down and didn’t meet Nina’s gaze. “What the hell are you doing?” Nina whispered. – pg. 173
- Parker rolled his eyes. “It’s going to take him a while to eat the car,” he explained. “It’ll probably take until spring, and by then it’ll be warm. He won’t need shelter anymore.” “This is your plan? Is that what you do for your girlfriend?” “That is my hypothetical plan for my hypothetical girlfriend.” “Well, I practically have a hypothetical boyfriend, so…” “So there you go.” – Parker + Nina pg. 242