There's such a sweetness and joyful innocence to this story, I couldn't help but love it. I felt that Burch captured the voice of a third-grade boy very well - it was full of youthfulness, earnestness and all the hopefulness, naivety, hurt and slight rambling that made it feel real, yet it was still enjoyable for an older reader. Keats is smart and observant, yet he doesn't always fully understand the actions and motivations of the people around him, and so the reader is given many glimpses that give us a better picture of what's going on. The characters all come to life, and it seemed like everyone had a bit of a crazy streak to them, but they always felt like real people to me.
Keats is the second-youngest in the family and the only boy to three sisters. He struggles with self-confidence, bullying, being overshadowed by his "perfect" older sister Lulu, and some general middle-child angst of always being bested and overlooked. When the Manny arrives, it's like a bit of magic gets slowly sprinkled into his life.
One point that I want to make a note of is that even at the end of the book, there exists a bit of an enigma around Manny. We constantly see his positive, humourous, and mischievous personality, yet we only get glimpses of his more serious side (one exception being a moment when he's giving advice to Lulu). We don't even find out his full name, him being referred to as "the Manny" by Keats and his siblings for the entirety of the book. I can understand this, being that The Manny Files
is narrated by Keats, and we can be sure that Manny ensures that he is a constant positive role model whenever he is with the Dalinger kids, but I kind of wish that I could see more sides of him. Manny retains a slight magical aspect with his constant positive outlook and ability to make almost any situation better with a word, a joke, a game, or a piece of advice.
Overall, I loved this book. It had interesting and loveable characters, a relatable protagonist, laugh-out-loud moments, heartbreaking moments and just general put-a-smile-on-your-face-ness.