It’s not just Tate’s two-toned blue yarmulke that makes Aden fall in love with him, but it sure helps.
Aden can’t help but fall for Tate’s “audacity and spirit” in calculus class. Aden’s white and Jewish—or is she Jewish, really? She’s unsure: her mother was Jewish but died when Aden was 7, and Aden’s felt unconnected with Jewishness ever since. What she’s sure of—and what readers will revel in—is her chemistry with Tate, who’s also white. Their flirting is electric, and he looks at her with eyes “full of light.” But Tate expects Aden not to interpret his constant touches “like that”—because he has a girlfriend. Is Aden off the table for Tate because she’s fat? “Can a girl be pretty if she’s also fat?” Tate’s “audacity” extends to disrespect: he wants Aden for sparkly flirting and emotional intimacy (and calculus tutoring, but clearly that’s not all)—but not dating. Aden’s voice is funny (“I should probably stop contemplating everyone’s underwear”) and emotional. Her process of grounding herself includes reclaiming and grieving for her mother in the face of her angry father; pondering Judaism; songwriting and singing; boundary decisions about her relationships with Tate, her brother, and her best friend; and reclaiming swimming, which she stopped due to self-consciousness. Whether swimming brings weight loss is ambiguous.
Full of heart. (Fiction. 13-17)