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Nothing Up My Sleeve: 09/03/16
Nothing Up My Sleeve by Diana López is about three friends finding a new hobby, something that is theirs and theirs alone. They are Dominic, Loop, and Z and their hobby is magic.
In town there is a new (or new to them) magic shop that promises access to the Vault if a person either buys $100 worth of stuff or performs a magic trick for the store owner. Although one of the boys has access to infinite money because of a stepfather who is trying to buy his love, the other two don't. So they all opt for the perform a trick.
Access to the vault opens them up to the world of magic. There is enough variation in the art for each boy to find his niche. It also introduces them to Ariel, daughter of the store owner. She is already an accomplished magician well versed in the classics. She's also loud and proud of her skills, something the boys find very off putting.
The book is told from alternating points of view from the three boys. We see into their home life: the boy who is last in the family (even to the point of having the nickname "Z") and always gets hand-me-downs; the boy whose family is struggling to keep their business afloat and have little left for anything else; and the boy who has access to everything as long as he allows his stepfather to buy his love.
As Ariel was a big part of the story too, I would liked to get a few chapters from her perspective as well. How did she get into magic? What does she think of the three boys' chances? Does she do anything else besides help in the shop?
In the end it's a pretty by the numbers story of three underdogs making their way to a big regional competition. Whether they win or not isn't the point. The point is how the struggle to get there brings their families together and how the competition could threaten to break up the friendship.