Kicked out of her father's house for being a lesbian, Alyssa adjusts to small-town life with the mother she barely knows.
Carly, who had Alyssa when she was a teenager, works as a stripper and lives, to Alyssa's suspicion and surprise, in a $4 million house. Carly's profession disturbs and angers Alyssa for reasons that are never fully explored, and Alyssa is initially hostile toward Carly and irritated when nearly everyone she encounters in their small town of Majestic, Colo., recognizes her as “Carly's girl.” Alyssa takes a job at a local diner, working for gruff but kindly Arlo, one of relatively few characters in teen fiction to use a wheelchair, and alongside Finn, who instantly pings her gaydar and piques her interest. Flashbacks, some written in second person, describe Alyssa's relationship with Sarah, her last girlfriend, and the complex and frustrating dance of hiding the relationship from Alyssa's father and stepmother. The issue of stalking receives subtle treatment; Alyssa is afraid she cannot be trusted with a phone, and flashbacks show her texting and calling to excess. The adult characters, particularly Carly and Arlo, are unusual and well-drawn, and the intimacies and betrayals of the relationship with Sarah ring painfully true.A warm and substantive character study and a welcome addition to stories about LGBTQ teens. (Fiction. 14-18)