Can a group of young adults make a difference when it comes to protecting an area from environmental disaster?
Alison feels like she has no one in the world but her boyfriend, Jeff. After her brother, Andy, dies in a drunken driving accident for which Alison feels responsible, her parents fall apart, and she turns to her brother’s friends for comfort, which comes in the form of sex. School isn’t much better. Alison doesn’t fit in with the crowd and has gained a rough reputation because of the aforementioned sex with her brother’s friends. But when she and Jeff join a Free State, an activist community of people trying to save old-growth Douglas fir trees from being cleared, she finally feels a part of something larger than herself. Even as relationship problems and tragedy plague Alison and her allies, they stay committed to their purpose. A somewhat overly earnest narrative offers white-presenting characters that often feel dichotomous and flat. The pacing is energetic for most of the book yet fizzles toward the end. Discussions about the potential futility of saving a tiny patch of forest feel staged, and Alison’s guilt over her brother’s death and redemption through activism explore no new ground.
A tepid book with goals as lofty as a Douglas fir. (Fiction. 14-18)