A teenage girl experiences first love.
Seventeen-year-old Dove spends most of her time painting and idolizing Audrey Hepburn, but when her longtime crush, Leo, suddenly shows an interest in her, those obsessions fall to the wayside. Handsome Leo is favored to be drafted into professional baseball. Dove is aware of his past as a Lothario of sorts, but when he flashes his dimpled smile, those concerns slip her mind. A standard love story ensues, with fumbling advances, petty betrayals, and nagging parents. The couple live in affluent Orange County, California, and this setting is a hindrance to the narrative. Everything in the novel feels so inconsequential: Dove and Leo never emerge as well-rounded individuals, and their hobbies don’t inform their characters one way or the other. It’s all just bland, rich kids going through the motions of a bland story. The self-absorption of the novel’s leads bleeds into the narrative in a plotline involving Leo’s ex-flame Clarissa, whose role in the story is problematic. What of Clarissa’s perspective; what’s her story? Readers are meant to sneer at the slut, but many would happily trade all 200-plus pages of this novel for just one chapter from Clarissa’s point of view. The book assumes a white default.
A cheesy romance with misplaced priorities and dismal characters. (Fiction. 12-16)