In Max and Sadie’s friendship, wild Sadie is the one who has all the fun, while responsible Max deals with the consequences.
Max has never questioned that dynamic, but she begins to see how one-sided their relationship is the summer before senior year, when they stay with Sadie’s divorced hippie mom on an organic farm in Nebraska. Compared to Sadie, Max finds the other commune members kind and undemanding, and the mindless farm work is preferable to Sadie’s manufactured drama. Max’s burgeoning flirtation with bad-boy Dylan drives them even further apart. But their bond finally breaks the night a tornado leaves Max’s life hanging in the balance with no Sadie in sight. Author Reed effectively portrays the end of an obsessive adolescent relationship through Max’s precocious voice, which initially addresses itself directly to Sadie. As the story progresses, Max refers to Sadie by name instead of “you,” demonstrating their growing distance: “Sadie, maybe this story isn’t about you anymore.” Less well-developed are the secondary characters that never rise above stereotype and neglected subplots involving both girls’ parents and Max’s bisexuality. The strained retellings of Greek myths inserted between each chapter that seem intended to deepen Max’s character and to further illustrate the girls’ troubled relationship only serve to interrupt Max’s more compelling first-person narration.
Teen girls who have experienced similar friendships will find this resonates; other readers probably won’t. (Fiction. 14-17)