Rory’s refusal to process her mother’s suicide is challenged by Hayes, who is facing his own demons through Alcoholics Anonymous.
Since her mother’s suicide, dreadlocked Rory has retreated into casual hookups and secretly painting graffiti lions around New Paltz. (Aside from her dreadlocks, Rory seems to be white by default in her majority-white upstate New York town.) When Hayes, a white newcomer, discovers Rory’s secret, he blackmails her into socializing with him. Hayes also encourages Rory to rebuild her relationship with her police-sergeant father. Immune to Hayes’ suggestions and confident in her ability to control every situation, Rory instead attempts to transition Hayes into another casual hookup and painting accomplice. He frustrates her plans, however, by revealing his reluctance to engage in either due to his ongoing involvement in an AA program for his substance-use disorder. Rather than supporting him, self-absorbed Rory often views Hayes’ commitment to his recovery as inconvenient. Her callousness may be fueled by grief, but it can still be uncomfortable to watch her potentially jeopardize Hayes’ sobriety and reject his attempts to build real relationships. Subsequently their interactions often have more undercurrents of anger than playful, quirky opposites-attract banter, and the story’s resolution skims over the seriousness of the emotional challenges that both will continue to face. A sexual assault storyline is also underdeveloped.
Introduces, but doesn’t always deeply examine, many serious topics. (Fiction. 14-18)