Looking ahead to their final year before graduation, four Latinx high school juniors deepen their friendship by altering their usual New Year’s Eve tradition.
The chapters are alternately named for Jess, Nora, Lee, and Ryan, teenagers whose families are part of the Latin American diaspora in Denver. The four engage in a witty ongoing group text chat. They worry about college admissions and whether they should attend at all. Collectively they lose a boyfriend, start new romances, mourn a relative, and argue with their parents. Trying to fulfill their resolutions, they run into a misunderstanding that tests their bonds. Diversity is the novel’s strength: Ryan and Nora, who runs a Puerto Rican restaurant with her mother, are gay. Some characters speak Spanish fluently, while others are trying to learn. Yet while culture is important to the story, the problems the friends encounter are universal. By splitting the story into four intersecting plotlines, García (Even If the Sky Falls, 2016) develops her characters with short strokes that preclude a great deal of depth, and their individual storylines become repetitive. The result is a slow-moving read that employs dramatic irony but doesn’t quite hit the mark with its more serious content.
A well-imagined world with point-of-view jumps that make it hard to invest in the characters as complex individuals. (Fiction. 13-18)