Two middle school girls grapple with their blossoming feelings for each other in this verse novel.
Tam is a volleyball player sometimes mistaken for a boy. Kate is a popular cheerleader. When they notice each other at seventh grade registration, Tam sees a walking cliché with a perfect ponytail, while Kate sees a girl as “tall as a palm tree.” When they meet face to face, they strike an immediate rapport. Soon the two are having lunch together every day and linking pinkies in the halls. As they grow closer, each finds herself questioning who she thought she was. Tam doesn’t know how she fits into Kate’s seemingly perfect world. Kate, who has spent her life trying to live up to her shallow, perfectionist mother’s expectations, wants to go her own way, a process that includes deciding whether or not to admit her feelings for Tam. Tam and Kate share the first-person narration, which keenly conveys each girl’s joys and inner turmoil. The dual narratives play off of each other, sometimes in a call-and-response manner that clearly communicates the shyness, awkwardness, and confusion of first love. A trio of unseen watchers, identified as Alex, Alyx, and Alexx, collectively represent the observant school-hallway bystanders, providing commentary and speculation in the manner of a Greek chorus. Their verses can be read vertically or horizontally, resulting in multiple meanings. Characters are racially ambiguous.
A glowing, heartfelt addition to the middle-grade LGBTQ genre. (Fiction. 8-14)