Best friends combat relationship strain caused by parental interference, secrets, and a new abusive boyfriend in this novel in verse.
Sophomores Zari and Clare have been inseparable since Zari moved to town for her father’s job. Although both teens are creative—Zari is a poet, Clare plays the guitar—their home lives couldn’t be more different; Zari’s parents are status-conscious and controlling while Clare’s widowed mother is supportive but busy working full time and going to college. As Zari’s parents force her to take an internship with a renowned professor, Clare starts busking to help her mom make ends meet. Seasons, rather than chapters, break up the text, and winter brings unexpected changes. In compelling scenes, Zari’s parents discover she and her brother are playing music with Clare on the streets and forbid them from hanging out with her; readers will empathize with the teens’ feelings of powerlessness. Forced to choose between family and best friend, Zari turns to Dion, the professor’s son. Although the transition from first kiss to abuse with Dion feels abrupt, the way he manipulates and ultimately controls her rings true. Told in alternating first-person voices, the connection between Zari and Clare is well-executed, and their relationship’s growing pains resonate with honesty. There are no physical descriptions to indicate race.
Holds strong appeal for reluctant readers, exploring different types of love, social class, and dating violence. (Verse novel. 12-18)