Reeling from a reputation-staining episode the previous spring and the news that her mother has breast cancer, Harper is ready to patch things up with Declan, the boyfriend she dumped last fall.
Swayed by new friend Sadie, Harper has turned to partying and heavy drinking, along with short, meaningless flings with other boys. In the summer before their senior year, Declan returns from boarding school, where his father sent him after his mother died. Harper’s success at convincing Declan that she cares for him is uneven at best. Her old friends watch as she chases the fleeting satisfaction of getting wasted and hooking up and tries to deal with her growing addiction. Martin’s insight into the teen psyche is spot-on, capturing the intensely narrow lens through which teens sometimes see the world. Harper’s self-focused first-person present tense reveals her complete inability to see beyond her own moment-by-moment interpretation of events. She’s easily influenced, makes presumptions about others, and is oblivious to the pain she causes family and friends. Yet even as her behavior pushes boundaries, her self-esteem is so low that she can’t see a way out of the path she’s headed down and can't put her own actions in perspective. Despite its happy-ish ending, the book makes clear that Harper still has some growing up to do.
For readers who crave drama. (Fiction. 13-17)