After a teacher gifts her a copy of a cult classic novel, student-athlete Nanette O’Hare rebels against her manufactured white, middle-class lifestyle.
The fictional cult novel she receives echoes The Catcher in the Rye in reputation. Soon enough Nanette consumes the book, obsessed with its open-ended conclusion. When she befriends the author, a recluse named Nigel Booker, Nanette questions her tendency to conform to the demands of her parents and school life. “I knew I was privileged, but what good was that if I still didn’t get to make my own choices?” Acting the matchmaker, Booker introduces Nanette to Alex, a like-minded young poet with a destructive streak to whom she finds herself drawn. “Suddenly, I wanted to be attractive, adored, desired.” With a bracing, confrontational style, Quick exposes new angles to this angst-ridden teenage prototype, but the first half of the novel is spent developing a familiar narrative. Nanette’s story truly begins to excel in the latter half. As Nanette’s new relationships demand more from her, the author plumbs the depths of her isolation. Catharsis here equals a journey of self-sabotage and self-discovery: “You’re at a time in your life when you need to feel and believe wildly—that’s just the way it is,” Booker tells her. Rare moments like these make Nanette’s story soar.
A strong, well-written female protagonist sets this coming-of-age novel apart. (Fiction. 15 & up)