A road trip leads to self-acceptance and inner strength.
It’s February, and Lexi Green’s heartbroken 19-year-old brother, Charlie, has been occupying the sofa since he came home for winter break in December. When musician Adrian Wildes goes missing, Charlie suggests they find him. The last thing the 15-year-old white high school sophomore wants to do is traipse all over the Northeast searching for a musician whose music she despises, but someone needs to look after Charlie, who is still reeling from a breakup months before. They enlist their neighbor, gay white boy Zack, as driver. Lexi and Charlie’s relationship is strained, primarily because Charlie’s depression darkens his perspective and Lexi believes he’s “sad because of nothing.” Lexi’s first-person narration is structured into two main, alternating parts: “Before” slowly reveals the events that led to a falling out with her best friends and to her breakup with Seth, a manipulative, patronizing faux feminist. “Now” is narrated in the present tense, and it’s here that Lexi finally admits to herself and to Charlie what happened with Seth in a troubling encounter she’s second-guessed the nature of for months. Lexi challenges male and female double standards by questioning them without pedantry or superiority; she’s genuinely perplexed by society’s conflicting messages about gender. Primary characters are white; four characters of color have minor roles.
A well-balanced delivery of heavy topics tempered with wry humor. (Fiction. 13-18)