White “trailer trash” girl meets wealthy Indian boy, sparks fly, and college plans are complicated in this romance.
Eden and Ash are front-runners for valedictorian, Ash due to parental pressure and Eden because good grades mean college. They have never liked each other—and anyway, Eden doesn’t like anyone. A new classmate (who primarily exists for reasons of exposition and plot momentum) encourages Eden to wear makeup; this plus a teacher-mandated project partnership soon turns rivalry to love. But Eden’s father is a racist, and Ash’s parents are snobs. Clumsily told, with inconsistent information and characterization (particularly Eden, whose first-person narrative sounds more middle-aged than foulmouthed teen outcast), this nevertheless fills a hole, tackling a transracial, transclass relationship in a community where that’s barely acceptable, with a bonus of autism education for readers through Eden’s babysitting job. Both teens are brilliant and beautiful, and the story veers unevenly between Eden’s struggles (will she get the scholarship? Is her dad going to get in her way? Is her amazing stepmother going to support her again?) and the burgeoning romance, never quite making either go anywhere.
Mediocre and formulaic but not utterly without value. (Romance. 13-17)