Pfeffer pens a tale of star-crossed romance in her debut coming-of-age novel.
Ryan Mills is a typical 16-year-old, obsessed with sex and the prettiest girl in his class, Emily Wintraub. But Ryan is from a wealthy Hollywood family—his father is a film director—and Emily is the daughter of a stern, disapproving accountant. Ryan is hampered by privilege and parental neglect, inevitably leading to a heap of trouble—here in the form of a drug addict friend who dies in a car accident and leaves Ryan in possession of his contraband. As Ryan wrestles with his grief, he develops a sexual relationship with Emily and helps his late friend Michael’s girlfriend, Chrissie, survive a troubled pregnancy; it sounds like the plot of Cameron Crowe’s film Say Anything, which the author admits was the inspiration for this charming book. But Ryan’s path to healing—mending his relationships with his parents, Emily’s parents and Chrissie—is much more complex than the film and likely to keep readers on edge until the novel’s conclusion. Fortunately for readers seeking authentic young-adult voices in fiction, the author spent three years taking writing classes, engaging teenagers in discussion about their lives and vetting the manuscript in workshops. The result is seamless prose that glides along with beautifully realized characters in a gripping, page-turning plot. A rewarding ending caps this nearly perfect young-adult novel that manages to be simultaneously entertaining and informative about the dangers of drugs and the consequences of good and bad life choices.
This lively, fresh young-adult romance is Say Anything for a new generation.