Their relationship is doomed from the start.
For 15-year-olds Céce and Mack, it’s nearly love at first sight—not an easy feat, since they’re so remarkably different. He’s a dyslexic dropout with a police record. She’s an excellent student, studying for an entrance exam to a gifted-and-talented program. Each comes from a hard-drinking, single-parent family, although Céce’s mother exudes heartfelt affection while Mack’s father is a misanthropic hate-monger. When provoked, Mack’s anger is nearly uncontrollable, yet his transcendent sensitivity toward Céce and the pit bulls he rescues and cares for is extraordinary. Pushed together by Céce’s brother, the heartbreaking depth of their relationship is vividly depicted through affecting prose and believable dialogue. After Mack gets into serious trouble, their resulting separation marks the end; each of them has to find a way to continue on, horribly damaged, but not destroyed. Remarkable characters abound: Vic, the wily fellow who employs them both in his quirky restaurant; Anthony, Céce’s brave older brother; Wash, a compassionate prison guard; Mr. Thompkins, an impatient, drill-sergeant on a mission; and, notably, a pair of slobbering, devoted pit bulls. Even a too-convenient climax doesn’t detract but rather gives readers and characters the relief they need. Achingly, authentically emotionally resonant, this sad, never-saccharine tale related in alternating voices will have absorbed readers reaching for the Kleenex.
An outstanding love story peopled by a wealth of memorable characters. (Fiction. 14 & up)