June thinks high school is merely a stopgap between childhood and real life until she starts carpooling with the star jock.
June is a snob. She believes that her alt musical choices and AP classes mean she doesn’t have to engage with the rest of the high school herd. She starts riding to school her senior year with Oliver, whose exuberance for socializing, athleticism, and pop music allows June to rest easy in the notion that he’s a simple “jock-hole.” However, “I care about every single minute, because I know that everything here does matter,” Oliver says, and he begins a wager that he can expose examples of meaning, while June’s task is to highlight meaninglessness. The winner gets to pick songs for the ride-to-school playlist. In present-tense first person, June describes how, in a succession of mornings, they get to know each other better and how Oliver keeps shocking her with his sensitivity and vast vocabulary. True to genre form, June and Oliver haltingly fall for each other and learn that there’s more to a person than meets the eye. Klein paints a realistic portrait of modern teen life, including divorced parents, gossip, sex, and drinking. Beneath June’s veneer of cynicism, though, is a hopeful vision of youths who are nervous and excited about starting adult life.
It’s a predictable romance about two smart white teens, but it’s an entertaining and even touching one. (Romance. 12-18)