The scandals of 16th-century English royalty pale next to the political drama of 21st-century high school students in this fictionalized version of Lancaster, Indiana.
Annie Marck, aka Cleves (so called because she’s from Cleveland), and homecoming king Henry are BFFs (who dated for 15 days, making her girlfriend No. 4) and adrenaline junkies who have decided to embark on the ultimate senior year. Henry’s dating history isn’t without its setbacks. First, girlfriend No. 2, Anna Boleyn, died while allegedly trying to kill him; later, Katie Howard (No. 5 and Anna’s cousin) dies after Henry discovers she’s been cheating with football player Tom Culpeper. Cleves has a hard time believing he’s a murderer, but the evidence is piling up. Like his historical counterpart, Henry lives by a code of double standards, especially when it comes to cheating and number of girlfriends (six in two years). Also like Henry VIII, shallow and self-absorbed high school Henry isn’t easy to love. Witty narrator Cleves is a feminist force, lambasting slut-shaming and calling out her female classmates’ internalized misogyny. Readers who like mapping real-life figures onto fictional counterparts will read with Wikipedia open. Cleves was adopted from China and her sister from Malawi; otherwise, whiteness is assumed.
So much fun. (Fiction. 13-adult)