Eighteen-year-old Polly recounts her road trip with Odd, a fellow survivor of the disease that killed five others from their small town, in D’Elegance, his Gramma’s old baby-blue Cadillac.
Fishing is ostensibly the purpose of their outing, and it symbolically charts the way the two teens process their disabilities. Polly once had a boyfriend and a sense of a normal future, and she now calls her former self "Polly-That-Was," since Bridger has vanished with the disfigurement of her face and loss of an eye from MRSA, or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Odd Estes lost a foot as well as some football buddies, and although the two barely knew each other before, they both now struggle to accommodate their good fortune in surviving and their misfortune of disability. Swearing, booze and weed are along for the journey, which takes them from their hometown somewhere near Yellowstone toward Portland, Ore. Neither teen is particularly articulate, but Polly’s first-person narration is as snarky and devastatingly honest as she is. Odd and Polly move from isolation to a mutual connection that helps them deal with their pain. This is not a romance, but a tale of two people thrown together after their world has been turned upside down. Each is unique, vividly complicated and true. Engaging writing and characters lift this above the typical clichéd story of disabled teens.
Heartbreakingly honest. (Fiction. 14 & up)