The lives of seven teens intersect in expected and unexpected ways in this multivoiced novel that plays with the seven deadly sins.
Olivia. Kat. Matt. Juniper. Valentine. Claire. Lucas. All are students at Paloma High, where an allegation of a teacher-student relationship has just been revealed. Who is the teacher—and who is the student? That's only one of the secrets among these seven. Yet while the alleged relationship is ostensibly what brings them together, in fact that relationship is less important than the characters' existing problems. Olivia and Kat are still struggling to accept their mother’s abandonment, Matt crushes on Olivia, Claire tries to overcome her jealousy of her friends Olivia and Juniper, Lucas is in the closet even though he used to date Claire, while Valentine doesn't have any interest in relationships, romantic or otherwise. Meanwhile, the least of Juniper's troubles is performing well at her violin recital. And when the truth comes out about the teacher-student relationship, these seven students will see how their relationships have changed. While the characters are each distinct—Lucas' pansexuality and Valentine's asexuality are welcome explorations rarely seen in teen lit—the novel lacks much direction or tension, and the seven-deadly-sins theme fails to take hold. Without a plot that can really drive the action, this debut novel feels like a collection of well-written character studies.
Despite the intriguing premise, this novel’s reach exceeds its grasp. (Fiction. 14-18)