Two teens form an unlikely bond across a racial and cultural divide.
Sixteen-year-old Carly Vega lives with her older brother, Julio, both American citizens struggling to earn enough money to smuggle their undocumented, deported family back to the United States from Mexico. While studying her calculus homework during one dull midnight shift at a convenience store, Carly witnesses the old, irascible, and frequently drunk Mr. Shackelford getting mugged in the parking lot. She leaps to his aid, confronting the would-be perp before he gives up and escapes on Carly's bicycle. The next day, the handsome and popular Arden Moss, an Anglo and the son of the local sheriff, confesses to Carly that he was the culprit—it was an ill-conceived attempt to prevent his uncle from driving drunk again. Both are intrigued; from here, their relationship commences a complex tug of war. Carly is cautiously aware that Arden's father successfully campaigned on an anti-immigrant platform. Arden, meanwhile, is coping with the loss of his beloved sister, trying to steady his pill-popping mother, and both avoiding and provoking his contemptible, racist father. A mind-blowing revelation creates a plot-changer worthy of an action film. Writing in the present tense and switching between first-person for Carly and third-person for Arden, Banks offers a book brimming with original humor and mostly complex characterization (Mr. Shackelford is a delight) even as she tackles race and immigration issues.
Both a heart-stopper and heart-tugger. (Fiction. 12-18)