Brooke Byers is a white 17-year-old who had planned to spend the summer raking in the cash at her new job. But that all changes when her stepsister, Natalie, comes to stay for the summer.
Natalie has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. Natalie prefers that everything happen a certain way, and when it doesn’t, she becomes so anxious she has a meltdown. To keep Natalie entertained and occupied, Brooke suggests a drama camp, since Natalie loves musicals. That is where they meet Micah, who is the stage manager for the show, and both Natalie and Brooke are attracted to Micah in different ways. Due to Natalie’s need for family assistance during her meltdowns, Brooke becomes the assistant stage manager for the show, allowing readers to see the relationships develop. Both Micah and Natalie are biracial, with Chinese mothers and white fathers, one of the “major commonalities” Natalie identifies. In her carefully intentional treatment of Natalie’s neurodiversity, Day depicts Natalie as capable and intelligent via both Brooke’s observant first-person narration and her own dialogue. The book does not shy away from the cruelty and misunderstanding that many on the autism spectrum face. Both Natalie and Brooke are strong, well-developed female characters.
A book for readers who like romance that flourishes against the odds and characters who learn and grow. (Fiction. 13-18)