Sage is known around school as Princess Post-it for her efforts to cheer others up by sticking anonymous compliments on their lockers.
Sage, 16, lives with her aunt in the small Illinois town of Farmburg. She maintains a picture-perfect facade to keep “Shadow Sage” at bay—anger from her mysterious former life that sometimes threatens to overwhelm her. Shane is a good-looking, guitar-playing new kid in school who’s bullied by football star Dylan. Sage takes Shane under her do-gooder wing when she discovers that he lives alone in a trailer on the outskirts of town. In trying to fix Shane’s life, Sage falls in love with him. Meanwhile, Sage’s best friend, Ryan, admits that he’s been using her as cover while sleeping with a 21-year-old who thinks he’s 19. Family secrets are part of most of the characters’ lives, but Sage’s tragic back story, when it’s finally revealed, trumps them all. Stumbling through soap opera–like teen romance on her way to happily ever after, Sage’s rambling narrative veers into a Wild West–style showdown with Dylan when he tries to intimidate her: “Once he has some bullets for his figurative gun, I’m going down,” which Shadow Sage can’t let happen. Although it touches on serious issues, the melodramatic plot isn’t helped by wooden dialogue and stilted prose.
This one’s strictly for fans of lightweight romance. (Fiction. 12-16)