Catherine Calhoun has the misfortune of coming from a once-rich white oil family that has been blamed for the deaths of those exposed to the by-products of smelter that seeped into the water supply.
Even worse, her parents’ relationship deteriorates after her father loses his job in their dying rural Oklahoma town. Down the block, Cherokee teen Elliot Youngblood is spending the summer with his aunt and uncle due to his parents’ tumultuous and violent marriage. Elliot finds the nerve to approach Catherine, and the two forge a friendship, becoming inseparable. On the day Catherine’s father tragically dies from a heart attack, Elliot is forced to go home without a chance to say goodbye. Two years later, the beginning of their senior year, Elliot returns to find Catherine angry and heartbroken. Her life has led her to a darker place: Her home now serves as a boardinghouse full of unsafe strangers. As Catherine and Elliot attempt to rekindle their friendship, Catherine hides the terrible behavior of the guests as well as the deterioration of her mother’s mental health. There are a few stereotypical references (Elliot’s mother is painted with a feather in her hair and mentions of bronze skin and cheekbones), but this is an engaging story of two wounded kids who find solace in a friendship that blossoms into a touching first love.
A young adult love story laced with warmth, angst, and hope. (Fiction. 14-18)