A high school senior discovers common ground with a new friend and develops a deep connection that changes her life.
Ryann Bird is the primary support for herself, her brother, and her nephew following her parents’ accidental deaths. They live in a trailer park, but she attends school in an affluent neighborhood where she maintains a tough exterior. A teacher asks her to befriend new girl Alexandria Macallough, whose mother volunteered for a controversial one-way trip into space sponsored by a private company, SCOUT. The girls’ relationship has a rocky beginning, including an incident in which Alexandria is seriously injured. Seeking to make amends, Ryann involves her friends in a scheme to break into SCOUT to retrieve the messages Alexandria’s mother has sent through the years. As the plan proceeds, Ryann faces her attraction to Alexandria as well as the sacrifices she has made since her parents died. This is an unusual story—both in plot and how the narrative is tracked—that touches on sexual identity, friendship, nontraditional families, and the price of human space exploration. The characters’ resilience and vulnerability are deftly handled. Ryann and her family are white, while Alexandria is biracial (half black/half white). An observant Sikh secondary character with a Muslim given name and polyamorous parents is presented without sufficient backstory.
For readers who are drawn to the unconventional, this will be a satisfying read. (Fiction. 14-18)