Merideth “Meri” Miller’s future is a black hole, but the summer before senior year stretches before her, and her life is changing faster than she can keep up.
Meri’s white best friend, Charlie, spends all of her time with her new boyfriend; her grandmother is dying; her brother is in a serious accident; and she struggles with decisions: where to go to college and when to have sex for the first time. Her two-faced boyfriend, older white guy Brett, is all hands and runs hot and cold, but she ignores the red flags; at least he’s interested in her. The boy she wishes she were with, her longtime crush, the elusive Joaquin, who is Mexican, seems mildly interested, although he doesn’t act on his feelings. Meri is complex: her desire to leave her small hometown of Soldotna, Alaska, after graduation battles the 17-year-old white girl’s fear of leaving for the unknown. She questions everything and asks all the right questions; themes of life and death, ecstasy and grief, and loss and gain permeate the story. Her story eventually subverts the familiar heteronormative plotline, in which the girl gives up everything for the boy and allows herself to be defined by his feelings for her. Her candid first-person narrative is punctuated by journal entries, notes exchanged with her best friend, and letters between Meri and her grandmother. The 1990s setting is marked by tsunami-height hair, acid-wash denim, and multiple trips to see Pretty Woman.
An unforgettable journey to adulthood. (Historical fiction. 15-adult)