A teenage girl becomes caught between her controlling father and her desire for a normal life in this debut YA novella.
In Montreal, Rebecca Jacobs is much like any 16-year-old Canadian girl. She possesses a small circle of close friends, makes good grades, and notices the high school bad boy, David Miller. Though he has a reputation for getting into fights, David impresses Rebecca as smart and industrious when they work on a history project together. And if his masklike face doesn’t reveal much, Rebecca herself keeps a lot under wraps. Her friends know only that her parents are very strict, not about her father’s constant verbal abuse. When Rebecca’s father arrives early at a school dance to take her home, throwing a red-faced tantrum about it, David witnesses the public humiliation and sympathizes, deciding to give the girl his friendship and backing through the gossip to come. The friendship soon becomes romantic, although Rebecca explains her parents won’t let her date, feeling sure that David will lose interest. He supports her, though, and Rebecca is challenged to stand up for herself: to her so-called best friend, who tries to steal David; to David, when he pushes for more closeness; and at last to her parents, who call her a whore and a slut when she says she wants to date. A second dramatic confrontation at a school dance takes off all the masks. In her novella, Caviglia’s portrait of a verbally abused girl and emotionally abandoned boy is psychologically acute. Some responsible, aware adults are thankfully on hand as well to counteract the poor parenting on display, providing an effective balance. Especially nice to see is how well the author handles the teenage romance. The couple’s attraction isn’t just because they’re both hot; it’s a real relationship, one that’s about character, caring, and having each other’s back. They grow together, with David thoughtfully striving to overcome his temper and remain a good boyfriend while Rebecca bravely struggles for honesty against fear.
Shines thanks to a convincing teen romance that brings out the best in both characters.