Wren’s infatuation with handsome charmer Tim takes on an unexpected emotional depth after Tim reveals that he is gay.
Their friendship blossoms as she becomes a fiercely loyal defender of his secret, while he offers her emotional support during her family’s financial struggles. The novel’s premise initially feels like a traditional trope: Two best friends transfer to a new school where romance and varying degrees of social acceptance strain their friendship. But Wren’s voice transforms the potential teen dramafest into a nuanced reflection on gaining independence through the pursuit of individual interests and demonstration of concern for the well-being of others. Wren displays an uncanny ability to say just the right thing to comfort Tim during dark moments, a skill many readers will envy. And her very public loyalty to Tim is admirable. Yet Wren is far from perfect, occasionally privately revealing she still longs for a romance with Tim or feels jealous of his relationship with a football player, though she knows these feelings are unfair. Admissions like these ensure Wren is a dynamic character, not just a literary edifying device. Thoughtful parallels between discrimination based on race and sexual orientation are also skillfully interwoven.
While not romantic, Wren and Tim’s relationship becomes another powerful iteration of the book’s message that “[l]ove is love,” and all loves deserve respect.(Fiction. 12-18)