Vivi and Jonah’s hot summer romance is marred by her rebellion against her diagnosis of bipolar disorder and his grief over his father’s recent death.
Artistic and outgoing, Vivi enjoys adopting various personas through vintage clothing and retro makeup, and she becomes immediately popular in the town where she and her mom are vacationing. When she meets handsome and serious Jonah, Vivi seems as interested in the possibility of acquiring him as a hot fling as she is in cheering him up. Jonah’s shocked to find himself in the cross hairs of exotic Vivi, and he initially tries to protect their romance by hiding his stress over his mother’s lingering depression. Vivi’s beauty and exuberant attentions dazzle Jonah, and they largely explain his patience with her increasing capriciousness and the growing emotional distance that contradicts her demands for physical intimacy. But eventually Vivi’s dismissals of Jonah’s growing distress about his family strains their relationship. Readers understand that Vivi has secretly stopped taking her medication, but it’s still difficult to watch her illness overshadow her interest in Jonah. Ultimately this is Vivi’s journey, despite her sharing narration in alternating chapters with Jonah. Aside from a Japanese police officer and the Latino chef at Jonah’s family’s restaurant, the book’s cast is largely white. An author’s note supplies some resources on mental illness.
Vivi’s too precocious and world-weary from the start to make her relationship with practical Jonah ever feel like it has possibility beyond the end of the summer, regardless of her diagnosis. (Fiction. 14-18)