An affluent white teenage boy begins to question his place in his peer group after an odd new girl challenges his assumptions.
Sophomore Gavin Meeks is “one of the popular kids” at Evergreen High School in Portland, Oregon. His hobbies and dating choices are mostly based on his friends’ opinions and his family’s wealth. Everything changes when he meets Antoinette Renwick, a white girl who smokes, “dresses like a freak,” and had a brother who committed suicide. At first, Gavin can’t imagine being friends with her. But once he spends more time with Antoinette, he realizes that she “wasn’t just some pissed-off teenager. She had a plan…and the rest of it: high school, social life, teachers, parents…it was just noise to her.” Antoinette is the catalyst that initiates Gavin’s transformation from privileged tennis player to thoughtful photographer. Gavin knows he’s in love. But can Antoinette ever be in love with someone like him? Nelson returns to his now-familiar, linear plot of a clueless suburban teen awakening to the world’s complications under the influence of a quirky outsider. While references to Facebook may seem dated, Nelson gives a nod to the current cultural context when Gavin tries to photograph an angry protest that erupts as a result of a police shooting of an African-American teenager.
The bildungsroman never goes out of style, and Nelson still executes it well, if predictably. (Fiction. 13-18)