A high school senior’s Type A life implodes after her mother takes an overdose of pills.
When Juliet finds her mother unconscious on her bathroom floor after her parents’ separation, suddenly everything she used to value seems insignificant. She finds herself questioning her relationship with her longtime boyfriend, Jason, her parents’ outwardly perfect marriage, even her determination to get into Harvard. She sleeps with Declan, a talented Irish musician she just met, cuts and dyes her hair, and starts singing with Declan’s band. She still keeps studying for her SATs and other exams, but she soon realizes that she’s only doing it to keep her friends and family happy. “In a horrifying waking nightmare, I saw Jason and my parents and all my future…mentors and bosses telling me to keep doing something I hated doing because someday I would be glad to have done it.” As her mother recovers and she rebuilds her relationship with her father, Juliet learns how to ask what makes her happy instead of accepting others’ definitions of success. With clear prose and realistic dialogue, Kantor perceptively illustrates the pressure that accomplished teens put on themselves to achieve perfection.
This timely story will ring true for today’s disillusioned young people, who are discovering that years of good grades, piano lessons and internships don’t necessarily result in adult happiness. (Fiction. 13-18)