Two rich teens—with one flaw each—fall in love in neighboring Los Angeles mansions.
When Lennon moves into her father’s sprawling home, she’s struggling with the lifelong OCD that worsened after her mother’s death. She finds her match in bad-boy-next-door Kyler, her partner for a class project on Romeo and Juliet. Like Lennon, Kyler is wealthy, white, a creative prodigy, and separated from hegemonic perfection by exactly one character-defining flaw: a scar from a long-ago house fire. Kyler insists he’s hideous and refuses to play with his band in public; Lennon is sure her OCD is what killed her mother. Both characters self-consciously mention their own privilege but seem incapable of imagining that anyone might have bigger problems than they do. Alternating-perspective chapters tell the story from Lennon’s and Kyler’s points of view in turn, but their voices are so solipsistic and melodramatic as to be interchangeable—readers could be forgiven for thinking they’ve each fallen in love with themselves. More disturbingly, Kyler shows tendencies toward coercive control over the women in his life, including his sister, whose eating habits he monitors; Lennon’s stock-villain stepsister, toward whom he uses misogynistic slurs and physical intimidation; and Lennon herself, over whom Kyler explicitly claims ownership. The hyperbolic voices of the protagonists are both vapid and laborious to read. All characters are white except for a barely-there dark-skinned girl who shows Lennon around school.
An overblown love story lacking nuance or depth. (Romance. 14-18)