Instead of starting her senior year, 16-year-old Caroline is planning to run away with her older boyfriend, Jake, at the end of the summer.
To help finance their move, Caroline gets a job in the gift shop of the local aquarium, where she meets Georgia, one of the summer camp counselors. Georgia and Caroline are heading in opposite directions—Caroline may be leaving high school before graduation, and Georgia (reluctantly) takes weekly practice SAT tests and has annotated her college guidebook—but they quickly become friends. As their friendship grows and as Caroline’s plans with Jake start to solidify, Caroline begins to question what she actually wants—to stay or to go. Van Name’s debut is a fun read written in a comfortable, conversational style, but it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of depth. Set against a default-white suburban neighborhood, the only two options presented for Caroline are leaving with Jake or following her parents’ plans of completing school and going to college, and those choices are treated without nuance. Caroline’s relationship with Jake is mostly well-presented, but his intentions are unclear, as are her actual feelings about how they spend their time together (she seems to have sex with him more out of expectation than desire). Her relationship with Georgia, by contrast, is sweet and well-developed.
A well-intentioned but mediocre book about listening to your instincts. (Fiction. 14-18)