At odds with her changing self and family, one summer Agnes Moon pretends to be someone different—and meets others with secrets.
Twelve-year-old Vermonter Agnes, who has her white mother’s red hair and freckles and her biracial (white/Korean) dad’s dark eyes and light-brown skin, really hates her new curves and the idea of “becoming a woman.” She also feels left out: Her divorced parents, her older sister, and her best friend all seem to have moved on to other relationships. A first small lie allows her to spend the summer with her father. But he’s busy; she has plenty of time to explore. The lies multiply as she introduces herself as Chloe from Kansas, first to Stella and her grandmother at the general store and then to Fin, the attractive boy visiting nearby Fly Back Farm, and Harriet Hooper, the farm’s owner. As they gradually reveal some of their secrets, Agnes becomes increasingly uncomfortable in her own deceit but holds out until she collapses spectacularly and publicly. Having been exposed to the decisions made by and for teen mothers and intersex babies, as well as to someone who has been seriously depressed, she’s more willing to face her own personal and family concerns. While there’s no doubt many readers will find Agnes’ discontent familiar, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that these secondary characters and their concerns exist primarily for Agnes’ enlightenment. Except for Agnes and her dad, characters seem to be default white.
Important issues float through clouds of self-pity. (Fiction. 9-13)