Over the course of two days in a desert California town, a high school graduation celebration challenges friendships and introduces post-graduation realities.
Victoria “Vic” Navarro (white, Filipino, and generic “Native American”) is throwing one final fete for her graduating class at Happies, the legendary local restaurant that has popularized Rancho Soldado but is now closing. With her two best friends, Genesis “Fletch” Fletcher (adopted from “Africa” by an interracial couple) and Mercedes “Slick” Zavala-Kim (mixed-race, Mexican/Korean), Vic has secured permission from Happies’ owner to orchestrate a final hurrah, distracted Rancho Soldado’s most villainous teacher Annette Thrope (called “Miss Ann Thrope” by her students), and landed her crush’s assistance for the night. In Vic’s account, alcohol flows, music plays, and pot brownies are consumed, while lustful teenagers tuck themselves in all corners of the property. After a large band of geriatric Happies fanatics crashes the festivities, the growing crowd morphs from a discreet rager into a grander, final tribute. Girls repeatedly refer to themselves as dumbsluts or bitches, and somehow these teens are well-versed in dated pop-culture references. In Cohn fashion, characters strike varying chords of teen attitude from idealistic to cynical, naïve to sophisticated. The diversity is pleasing to see, but it is skin deep—there is no plumbing of cultural nuance.
Readers who find “dumbslut” endearing will likely enjoy the crazed teenager angst, but the rest may find themselves wondering why they should care about these hormone-charged characters. (Fiction. 14-18)