When an ex-boyfriend posts humiliating pictures of her online, 17-year-old Kate Hamilton feels responsible for the dramatic shift in political mojo that leads her father to step down from his U.S. Congressional seat and move the family from the nation’s capital to his hometown in Red Dirt, Texas.
This podunk town may be a far cry from the sophisticated world she’s used to, but the white teen quickly discovers that while the issues may be different, everything is still political, particularly when she discovers that the school’s quarterback is the son of her father’s new campaign opponent. Kate is determined to shore up her chances of getting into a fine arts college by using her time in Red Dirt to perfect her photography portfolio and snare the coveted principal’s recommendation from her cheating ex when the family inevitably returns to D.C. But she’s stuck here now, and using her political savvy to right wrongs and navigate life in a new high school where football reigns may be her biggest challenge yet. While Kate is likable enough, her tendency toward political-jargon infodumps often feels forced and inauthentic. The story is best when it focuses on the romantic tension between Kate and the mysterious Hunter Price, her biology partner and a man of many talents, and on the blossoming friendship between Kate and Ana Gomez, the one significant character of color.
Too much politics. Too little heart. (Fiction. 13-17)