An intelligent, wry 17-year-old is brutally beaten in a communal shower by two classmates after he hooks up with one of their former girlfriends, setting the stage for a difficult recovery.
Evan knows he’s sort of a dick when it comes to girls, but being constantly uprooted to various boarding schools by his emotionally inept dad has caused him to eschew relationships and focus on honing his knack for identifying Girls Who Would Say Yes. After the assault that leaves Evan in the hospital, his father whisks him off to his own boyhood home in Minnesota, where he’s uneasily sucked into a tightknit group spending their last summer at home getting high and hanging out before going off to college. Evan’s intense, often-discomfiting first-person narration will deeply affect readers, and his darker side is troubling—in an aside about girls with eating disorders, he thinks, “I’d known some of those barf-it-up girls, and they were the worst. So crazy. So clingy. The first to get deleted from my phone.” Packed with realistically lewd dialogue that is often darkly funny, this is a pitch-perfect, daring novel about how sex and violence fracture a life and the painstakingly realistic process of picking up the pieces. Evan’s struggle is enormously sympathetic, even when he is not.
Utterly gripping. (Fiction. 16 & up)