Two small-town Kentucky high school girls run away together.
Bo, whose voice narrates the story going forward from the night they steal Agnes' sister's car, is a sober bisexual virgin who's widely considered the school slut. Most of her family members are drunk or in jail, her father ran off, and her mother's addicted to meth. Agnes, whose voice in alternate chapters narrates the story in flashback from the beginning of her friendship with Bo, is legally blind from birth and chafing at the restrictions her well-meaning but hardly adventurous family puts upon her. She also drinks beer and has had sex with Bo's cousin. The two narratives come at each other from a distance, then cross in a way that drains some of the tension out of the conflict: by the time readers understand the reason for the white girls' sudden departure, they also know that Bo has made promises she never intended to keep, which puts the entire escapade in an uncomfortable light. A pat ending feels tacked-on, but Bo and Agnes' unlikely friendship rings true and strong. Agnes can see lights and shadows, and she is competent at navigating familiar areas with the help of a cane; she can read with heavy magnifiers. Her blindness never feels stereotyped, nor does the sense of small-town suffocation.
An ambitiously structured road-trip novel stumbles a bit but gets a lot right. (Fiction. 14-18)