Despite her ear for authentic teenspeak, Joseph’s (Indigo Blues, 2010) latest effort falls flat.
Cassia’s summer goal is to find her passion before junior year. Her focus shifts between basketball, where she’s thwarted at league play by a more seasoned player, and Graham, a boy whose cute butt she’s had her eye on since spotting him at her father’s art exhibit. She faces obstacles in both arenas—perceived slights on the court from Kate, a.k.a. Thunder, and her inability to draw Graham’s attention away from her father and toward herself. Frustrated, she schemes to get Graham to lust after her with the help of her friend, Liz. The narrative leans heavily on Cassia’s internal monologue at the expense of plot, making Cassia come across as mean-spirited and quick to judge. Fueled by jealousy, with Liz as “back-up bitch,” she counters Thunder’s verbal barbs with hostility out of proportion to actual events. She’s jealous of her father’s new girlfriend; she’s even jealous of people who respond to her sprained ankle with stories of their own, asking herself, “What do you have to do to be special around here? Be in a full-body cast?”A framework of color imagery lends little to this novel, which is further marred by superficial dialogue, choppy sentences, non sequiturs and poor character development. (Fiction. 12 & up)