Many people from a variety of age groups have been asking me to read “just one” of Sharon Creech’s books. I decided to start with Replay, a story about a boy named Leo with too many siblings and a tiny part in his school’s play. Leo is a dreamer. In fact, he out dreams almost every middle school character I have ever read about. Leo dreams big and he dreams often. When he is cast as the “old crone” in the school play, he dreams of being a famous actor and has detailed conversations in his head about his future fame and glory.
One of the great things about this book is that Leo’s vivid imagination is not seen as a detriment to his success in school or in life. The author seems to encourage Leo’s outrageous and fascinating imagination, which is a refreshing change from the realism of many characters in YA books that are not explicitly labeled as fantasy. This is not to say that Creech’s characters in Replay do not deal with very real and not always happy themes. We find out that Leo’s father had a heart attack two years before the story begins and Leo slowly starts to realize that his father is not the happy-go-lucky young man he was when Leo was a small boy. What transpires is a thoughtful and compelling journey through Leo’s family’s past, their feuds and secrets and how they arrive at the parts they are set out to play.
As an added bonus, the full text of the play that Leo performs at school is included at the end of the novel!