Welcome to Glines’ (Under the Lights, 2016, etc.) seemingly mostly white Lawton, Alabama, where apron-clad moms bake all day, cute boys ride around in pickup trucks, and high school football is the lifeblood of the community.
Two years ago, Rhett Lawton, the wealthy Lawton family’s eldest son, raped Riley Young. When Riley reported the rape, the entire town turned on her, driving Riley and her parents out of Lawton. Now the Youngs have returned to Lawton to take care of Riley’s ailing grandmamma. Riley (who wouldn’t recommend teen motherhood “because it [isn’t] a life choice”) is ready to keep her head down and get through her time here, but all the suffering—the rape, the shaming, the shunning—was worth it, because now Riley is mother to a beautiful daughter, 15-month-old Bryony. “I’d live through it all again if I could have this,” she says. Star quarterback Brady Higgens reviled Riley as much as everyone else at the time. Now a senior, Brady looks forward to college football. When chance brings Riley and Brady together, they tentatively become friends; as Brady begins to believe Riley’s account of what happened, the relationship deepens. Chapters alternate between Riley’s and Brady’s first-person, present-tense accounts; neither’s voice is particularly distinguished, and their romance develops along highly predictable lines.
The novel’s anti-abortion angle is likely to turn off a lot of readers; even a more conservative boy/girl-romance–loving crowd is likely to find it bland. (Fiction. 14-18)