In fair San Francisco where we lay our scene, a pair of star-cross’d classmates freaks out about life.
All-American baseballer Mark is in love with his closeted best friend, Ryan. Kate pines for bon vivant Violet. Mark convinces Ryan to sneak to the Castro district for Pride Week festivities, thinking the shared adventure will surely make Ryan fall for him. Kate, too, is en route to San Francisco to finally meet Violet and commence romance. But Ryan falls for another suitor, and self-sabotaging Kate runs away from meeting Violet and ends up at the same bar. United by desperation, Mark and Kate embark on a magical night together (the truths of which are gradually revealed like romantic bread crumbs). Desperation, adoration, and confusion are confronted over several days as the outlooks of these two newfound friends evolve. The pacing and voices of LaCour’s and Levithan's alternating points of view are on point, keeping this sweet fairy tale moving gladly forward. And it is a fairy tale, for the circumstances are implausible. Who talks like that? How could this duo possibly become friends? But it-gets-better optimism swells the story’s spirit. Despite its delights, there are two notable missteps. Several mediocre poems obstruct pages at a poetry slam. And apart from a few minor characters, this is a vanilla middle-class world that white Mark and Kate inhabit.
A once-upon-a-time reminder that life sucks and love stinks—but ain’t they grand? (Fiction. 15 & up)