Romance blossoms across class lines.
Even though he didn’t commit the crime he was accused of, Drix—short for Hendrix—has spent 10 months (confusingly and frequently called a year) in a special program to end the school-to-prison pipeline, started by the governor as part of his bid for the U.S. Senate. Elle, full name Ellison, is the governor’s daughter, expected by her ultracontrolling parents to be a perfect blue-eyed blonde political accessory. After a meet-cute with looming menace, the two white teens are drawn to each other. Drix knows Elle deserves the best, aka better than him (a confusing mirror of her parents’ attitude), and dating her could destroy his second chance. Elle doesn’t think so, and throughout the overstuffed, repetitious narrative, she works to change Drix’s mind and prove to her parents she is committed to her envisioned future as a coder. Their romance is put to the test when Drix discovers who truly committed the crime he did the time for and Elle tries to intercede. Although the perils of the school-to-prison pipeline and life in politics are constantly told, they are rarely shown, causing little emotional impact. Further undercutting the romance is Elle’s petulant naiveté, which jars against Drix’s didactic approach.
Unsurprising and overlong. (Romance. 14-16)