Surprised to find himself attracted to the new, middle-aged music teacher, 15-year-old Birmingham negotiates his first intimate relationships with her and teenage Jenna in a whirlwind of sex and innuendo.
Birmingham has always been less limelight-hungry than his best friend, Geoff. New girlfriend Jenna seems to always be interested in sex, though, and in the most daring of circumstances. Not altogether sure he is keen, Birm slowly finds himself drawn to fellow musician Amber Flood, who is a substitute teacher at his school and married to a writer he admires. Trouble ensues, as is to be expected. This is a refreshing reversal from the usual boy-intent-on-sex-while-the-girl-looks-for-emotional-connection plot. The hints at how the adult world works blend with teen naïveté to create situations that may seem ambiguous to the main character at first glance, but not so much to readers, or in Birmingham’s hindsight, either. The writing is thoughtful, if pedestrian. Short as this is, the main appeal is to reluctant readers who are ready for the mature content and the fast pace of events. There’s a good grab on the first page when Geoff chortles loudly through a large list of synonyms for sexual intimacy. Unfortunately, the unrealistic depiction of school administrators and the unsatisfying resolution let Birmingham, Ms. Flood and readers all down. (Fiction. 12-16)