The emotional wreckage from a teenage love affair haunts a woman for decades in this debut novel, based on true events.
It’s the last few days of summer break in 1979, and 16-year-old Juliette “Jules” Kane is about to enter her junior year of high school in Cleveland, Ohio. But first, there’s an end-of-summer party to attend. That’s where she meets Adam Kelly, who’s entering his senior year at the same school. There’s an instant connection between them, but it’s not until their first date that Jules realizes where she’s seen Adam before—he’s the altar boy at the church that she’s just stopped attending after a dispute with a nun, Sister Elizabeth, during catechism. Adam will be heading off to Harvard University the following fall, but he and Jules have time to plan navigating the obstacles of a long-distance relationship; after all, love is forever. Then Jules learns that she’s pregnant, and they agree to tell their respective parents; with Jules and Adam as quiet observers, the four adults decide their fate—Jules must get an abortion, immediately, they say. The fact that Jules wants to keep the baby is never discussed. The next day, she’s driven to a clinic in Detroit. Bean says in an epilogue that this novel is based on her true story, although names have been changed and timelines altered to improve the story’s flow. As such, it comes across as a recollection of the heart, written with equal measures of love, pain, and biting sarcasm, including frequent acerbic, internal asides to Sister Elizabeth (“Sister, you got me good”). Jules effectively describes the painful aftermath of the couple’s enforced breakup: “Adam and I have a secret. A carnal sin that will go to my grave, mine alone. I don’t know what he will do with his secret. I’ve never had the opportunity to ask.” Despite many gaps in time as the story moves forward, it remains a compelling portrayal of one woman’s determination to reclaim her identity.
An edgy, poignant story about accepting the past.