Osterlund offers a believable and touching relationship between two protagonists readers will come to believe belong together.
Despite the hardship of immigrating to the United States from Mexico in elementary school, Salvador “Salva” Resendez, now a senior, is a straight-A student and the star quarterback of his football team. Having taken freshman English in middle school, he’s not happy when he’s saddled with the additional responsibility of AP English with a teacher known as “the Mercenary” instead of phys ed. Beth Courant, aka the “walking disaster area,” is also an A student—though a hopelessly disorganized one—and a gifted writer. Her pitch-perfect, third-person internal dialogue, which fluidly alternates with Salva’s, reveals grief over the loss of her grandmother and her mother’s neglect. When Salva receives a D from the Mercenary, he turns to Beth. Predictably, Salva begins to return Beth’s hitherto-unrequited crush, but what is unpredictably refreshing is the manner in which their romance unfolds. Salva and Beth both want a brighter future, but when tragedy strikes, it will take their combined strength—not just Beth’s, as the marketing copy unfortunately implies—to pull them through.
The romance ultimately rises above occasional false-sounding slang to tell a story of friendship, love and determination that will satisfy readers. (Fiction. 14-17)