A little-more-than-a-year in the life.
Isa and Alex have a pretty typical meet-cute: Alex holds the door open for her on the subway so the train won’t leave without her—which is good, because she has a very important dance audition to get to. Alex, meanwhile, has regular baseball practices not just with his team, but with his demanding father, who played for the Yankees for a year and a half before a drug addiction set him back. They represent two very different New Yorks: Isa’s well-off family is downsizing after her financier father lost his job and is also trying to keep her mother’s and older brother’s mental illnesses from tearing the family apart. Alex attends public school in Washington Heights and splits his time between his divorced parents; his mother works in a nursing home. What Alex’s parents and friends don’t know is that he’s a poet. Soon he’s writing poems for Isa and leaving them on the train car where at first they just keep happening to run into each other before they eventually meet on purpose, away from their parents and clashing friend groups. Blonde Isa is half Cuban and half white American; Alex is Dominican. Code-switching and bilingualism are realistically placed in dialogue throughout the text, without italics to disrupt the reader’s flow. Anxieties over mental health, socio-economics, and police and gang violence effectively complicate and deepen the narrative.
Heartfelt and meaty. (Realistic fiction. 13-18)