Piper Perish and her two best friends have always planned to go to art school in New York together after graduation, but now that senior year is here, nothing is coming together as envisioned.
White Italian-American fashion designer Enzo, Piper’s boyfriend, reveals his true sexual identity, leaving their friendship intact but fractured. African-American Kit, a budding entrepreneur, endures setbacks that make her question whether there is a role for her in the art world, bringing tension to her relationship with Piper, a white Texas teen who is uniquely talented in the visual arts. The most disruptive surprise comes when Piper’s emotionally unstable older sister, Marli, moves back home, pregnant. Marli seems to suffer from an undisclosed personality disorder, and her presence puts the whole family on edge. It also creates an unanticipated financial burden that throws the feasibility of art school in New York into question for Piper. Though there are many obstacles, Piper’s staccato first-person narrative is characterized by levity and hope, keeping it from feeling heavy. Piper’s goal to get to New York is a balanced blend of youthful optimism and pragmatism. Amid all the chaos, she is truly an artist, with an insatiable need to create.
In the interplay between adolescence and independence, a believable combination of talent, work, and luck make budding young artist Piper a character readers will remember. (Fiction. 14-18)