Failed by the institutions and adults who rule their lives, three stressed-out teens rely on their friendship to overcome—or at least survive—abuse, depression, and homophobia.
Having been brutally outed by classmates, Jeremy dreads returning to St. Francis Prep, but at a teacher’s urging, he reluctantly starts an art club. His first recruit is Mira, whose crippling depression last year landed her in a hospital psych ward. There, she met Sebby, who’d been savagely beaten by school homophobes. Their bond became a lifeline for each; now their friendship nourishes Jeremy. Whether it can replace adult support is another matter. Jeremy’s the child of supportive, emotionally mature dads. Mira’s the biracial daughter of a workaholic black lawyer and white stay-at-home mom; her high-achieving sister’s at Harvard. Their high expectations weigh heavily on Mira. Orphaned, openly gay Sebby has endured multiple foster placements. He lacks a safety net. Terrified to return to school, he lies about where he spends his days to his foster mother. Well-intentioned but unfit to parent a gay teen, she threatens to send him to a group home. Constrained by his teacher role, Peter—the adult best-equipped to offer support—can do little as stresses mount. Rounded characters large and small, drawn with insight and empathy, drive the plot.
Buoyant writing and wry humor balance the pathos in this powerful debut, a moving tale of friendship as refuge and shield against a hostile world. (Fiction. 14-18)