An act of vandalism revitalizes a small town.
Sarah Wheeler, the novel’s white narrator, has hit a fork in the road. Though at heart from the nerdy, lit- and drama-loving “Untouchables,” she’s now dating Fry, the hottest surfer dude at Whale Point High. When Fry throws a kegger in a cherished local landmark, Sarah joins him, against her better judgment—and the seaside cottage, former retreat of famed poet Rufus Baylor, ends up in flames. The drunken escapade lands Sarah and most of the partiers in court, sentenced to restoring the trashed cottage and taking a summer writing class taught by none other than the mythic and octogenarian Baylor. Baylor’s return to Whale Point injects new life into the sleepy community, prompting Sarah’s single mother and her largely absent “biological accident” father to re-examine their relationships with their daughter. At the same time, with Baylor’s attention and poetic inspiration, Sarah begins to look more closely at herself. While the circumstances leading to such communal introspection may be a bit far-fetched, Hawes excels in crafting rounded characters with varied home situations teens can relate to, and poems infused throughout the narrative offer poetic points of attachment as well as examples of different writing techniques (group- and free-writing, donning blindfolds, etc.) budding writers might attempt.
A tale of self-discovery well suited for art-inclined readers who feel themselves on the fringe. (Fiction. 14-18)