Two teens experience an intense year of first love.
Carolina and Trevor, a pair of emotionally intuitive, gifted athletes, are drawn to each other on the first day of high school and soon discover a heady physical chemistry. Debut novelist Gottfred alternates between Carolina’s and Trevor’s deeply earnest voices to tease out both the elation and the anguish of headlong first love. This technique is now almost clichéd, but it works here thanks to the psychological heft and frankness of the protagonists’ narration. Each longs for a romance based on total honesty, but as both struggle with mistrust in their relationships with their parents, neither fully trusts the other to accept their flaws, setting up future conflicts almost immediately. It’s refreshing to see both male and female characters striving to sort out the messy, complex feelings of all kinds that go along with an active but secret sex life and to see how those experiences help them mature substantively (and age appropriately) in their relationships with both their peers and their parents—who are much better at parenting than they are at marriage. The downside of using alternating perspectives is length—this novel would have benefited from tighter editing—but Gottfred is plainly a talent to watch.
Both emotionally satisfying and sure to be much discussed. (Fiction. 14-16)