Crushes, missteps and genuine loyalty on the road to deep friendship.
As she enters her senior year of high school, Amy—hemiplegic due to an aneurism following her premature birth and near the top of her class—uses her augmentative and assistive communication device to argue successfully that she needs peer helpers in school rather than adult aides. Her mother, Nicole, is dubious, but Amy knows which buttons to push: “If I’m going to go to college, I need to practice relating to people my own age.” Amy particularly wants to work with Matthew, whose unvarnished honesty fascinates her. Unlike her awkward relationships with her other peer helpers, Amy develops a real friendship with Matthew immediately. Due to their frank conversation and Amy’s quick discovery of Matthew’s OCD, their relationship is balanced and reciprocal, though their growing mutual affection goes largely unaddressed. Unlike its most obvious read-alike, The Fault in Our Stars, this is not a tragic romance: Amy and Matthew’s relationship is messy, fraught and tantalizing, but it’s not threatened with imminent death. McGovern’s triumph is how well she normalizes and highlights the variety of disability experiences among teens and their often circuitous journeys toward claiming their voices and right to self-determination. It’s slightly overplotted and occasionally heavy-handed, but it’s easy to forgive these flaws.
Ultimately, a deeply engaging and rewarding story. (Romance. 14-17)