Fantasy leads to a real romance a year after Ari sees a boy at the local lake.
A traumatizing experience with a former boyfriend led her to cutting, but despite her wariness Ari remains strongly attracted to Camden. They live in the same small town in upstate New York but attend different schools, so the relationship exists in Ari’s head for a year. But the following summer, a chance meeting leads to a party invitation, and it’s clear that Camden is also attracted to Ari. Even better, it turns out that he’s also a fan of her favorite sci-fi television series, and he and his friends wear their Silver Arrow costumes to the party. Bonding through fandom, they begin to spend time together, even indulging in Arrowhead cosplay at the county fair. There, however, Camden sees something that recalls a trauma of his own. Nevertheless, all seems well, and the romance progresses until Ari tells Camden about her previous summer’s crash. After that, reality increasingly encroaches on fantasy, threatening the romance. Castle nicely balances Ari’s admitted fantasy life and her interest in cosplay with the increasing intrusions of real, flawed personalities, including Ari’s, into the fantasy. Not only Ari, but Camden, her friends, and her family undergo stress and conflict, until Ari and Camden finally make their own choices. Aside from dark-skinned, possibly biracial Camden, the cast is largely white.
A sweet, sensitive romance distinguished by its respect for fandom. (Realistic romance. 12-18)