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by Emma Mills

Age Range: 13 - 18

Pub Date: Dec. 5th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-62779-937-9
Publisher: Henry Holt

In Mills’ (This Adventure Ends, 2016, etc.) latest, the beginning of senior year leads to new friendships and new love.

When Claudia accidentally overhears the breakup of Iris and Paige, Prospect-Landower School for Girls’ “cutest couple,” no-nonsense Iris threatens to ruin her. Instead, Claudia and Iris strike up an unlikely friendship after a failed group project forces them to participate in the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Iris is Chinese-American, the other primary characters ambiguously described, suggesting a white default. Claudia, who previously hadn’t bothered to make friends outside her childhood bestie, Zoe, begins to open herself to her peers. Chief among them is outgoing, kindhearted Gideon, a student at nearby all-male Danforth Prep. Even when Claudia lets herself believe that Gideon may actually be interested in her, a previous breakup makes her hesitant to pursue a new relationship (“It’s just easier to never start something than to have to see it end”). Unfortunately, the story follows the tired popular-boy-falls-for-unpopular-girl trope; otherwise, however, the characters are wonderfully fresh and honest. Claudia narrates in funny, conversational first-person present as the plot meanders toward opening night of Midsummer, allowing time for Claudia’s blooming relationships and self-confidence to develop.

The course of true love never did run smooth, but in the case of these two lovers, the journey is worth your while. (Fiction. 13-18)