Letting go of your past is hard, as two teens learn during four nights of parties over one year.
Despite their age difference, Tucker Campanelli and Erika Green really clicked when they worked together, but that was two summers ago. Now Tucker, plagued by his fraught relationship with his abusive, dying father, has little enthusiasm for his last year of high school. Erika, still coping with the fallout from a leaked sex video, didn’t much enjoy her freshman year at college. When they reconnect at an impromptu end-of-the-summer bash, it prompts months of flirting, fighting, and, finally, a friendship encouraging both to mature. The repetitive pattern—attraction, misunderstanding, insult, apology—can get tiresome, but their alternating viewpoints reveal complicated, sympathetic characters. Tucker, endearingly goofy and nerdy, is consumed by low self-esteem and self-pity; smart, compassionate Erika is also bitter, mistrustful, and crippled by internalized shame; both are self-absorbed to the point of wounding their supportive families and friends. While the protagonists are white, the racial, ethnic, economic, and sexual diversity of suburban D.C. appears in their social circle along with a culture of casual sex and underage drinking studded with pop-cultural references (which may date quickly). Some readers will be exasperated by their relationship’s lack of resolution; others will adore the echo of real life’s sloppy coincidences and messy ambiguities.
Not exactly coming-of-age but definitely coming-in-range. (Fiction. 14-18)