A teenage girl refuses to let go of her grief over her dead sister until an emotional crisis obliterates her carefully constructed facade.
Five years after the death of her beloved older sister, Reiko Smith-Mori expertly manipulates her seemingly perfect life to avoid talking about Mika even if she sees her and talks to her every day. A chance moonlit encounter with social outcast classmate Seth hurtles Reiko into a clandestine romance that leads to turmoil. At first, Reiko’s shame at dating below her social standing in the popular crowd may make her difficult to sympathize with, but Seth’s about-face from gentle nerd to cocky, insensitive bro stabs even harder at the heart. Reiko’s affluent Palm Springs lifestyle is contrasted with Seth’s trailer home, and as their romance grows, Reiko finds herself questioning her privilege. Ultimately, Reiko’s romantic journey and reflections lead her to accept and move on from her sister’s death. Reiko’s first-person narrative is a carefully constructed web that will have readers taking and switching sides as the characters develop and change. She is a nuanced, sensitively drawn protagonist—though she lacks authentic, internal biracial and bicultural tensions and texture. Reiko has a white American mother and a Japanese immigrant father; her best friend is Mexican American, and Seth is white.
An emotional roller coaster with a heroine who prevails. (Fiction. 14-18)