Two teens struggling with their pasts fall in love over the summer and help one another gain confidence.
Transgender Chris escapes to his aunt’s house for the summer, 700 miles away from bad memories and high tension with his parents. Cisgender Maia, with a Christian father and Jewish mother, on the other hand, chases the ghost of her dead sister, Mallory, through the photographs that Mallory left behind. Both of them long for someone to see them without defining them by the hardships in their lives. When their lives intersect, love pulls them together “like she was magnetic north, and I was just a rule of nature.” Alternating between Chris’ and Maia’s perspectives, Smith (The Last to Let Go, 2018, etc.) crafts a slow summer romance with an emphasis on consent and an open, hopeful resolution. Love helps both characters grow, heal, and learn more about themselves. After Maia discovers that Chris is transgender, she realizes the information is his to disclose in his own time and assures him when he tells her that it doesn’t change her feelings. Although Chris’ aunt and eventually his parents support him, he lacks connection to other transgender people apart from viewing videos and lurking on social media. He also takes pride in “passing.” The cast of characters is a white default.
A sensitive romance that values personal growth and inner truth. (Fiction. 14-18)