When the life plan she’d laid out implodes, a college freshman finds herself having to regroup.
On the surface, snarky protagonist/narrator Dandelion “Danny” Berkowitz seems destined to succeed: The attractive, upper-middle-class high school valedictorian has returned home from Harvard for the summer, ready to reconnect with her popular, equally overachieving, tennis-obsessed best friend, Sara. Unbeknownst to Sara or anyone else in their circle of friends, however, Danny spent second semester at a clinic undergoing in-patient treatment for an eating disorder and anxiety. Along with the internalized fear of failure both teens wrestle with privately, Sara has been saving face by keeping secrets of her own, spelling tragic consequences for their friendship. A turning point comes when Danny enters a romantic relationship with a mutual female friend without telling Sara, who then makes insensitive remarks about another girl who is a lesbian. Gonsalves juggles multiple serious adolescent challenges with operatic verve—eating disorders, substance abuse, sexual awakening and orientation, mental health, grief—and the resulting bildungsroman proves engaging and enlightening, particularly in her realistic depiction of compulsive behaviors related to food. All characters are assumed white.
A feel-good debut sure to interest teens looking to feel better about not feeling so great. (author’s note, resource list) (Fiction. 14-18)