The future is female: Her name is President Diffenderfer.
Best friends since kindergarten, Ava, CJ, Jordan, and Martha tackle their senior year with great aplomb in Watson’s debut. When their senior rite of passage, carving one’s name into the jungle gym at a local park, is threatened by a city council that wants to demolish the park, the girls rally to save the place where they became friends. This is far from their only problem: Though each is talented, they struggle this year with emotional, academic, social, and financial issues. Latinx artist Ava, who lives with depression, desires to find her birth mother and attend art school against her mother’s wishes; white cross-country athlete CJ, who is self-conscious about her body, can’t crack the SATs, so she strengthens her college application by volunteering with disabled children; biracial (black/white) student journalist Jordan lies about her age to interview a handsome councilman’s aide, and a mutual crush develops; STEM-focused white lesbian Martha, named for her ancestor Martha Washington, worries that her family can’t afford MIT. Over the course of the year, the friends weather obstacles and realize the power of their friendship. Their relationship prepares one of the girls to become president of the United States, and the twist ending will come as a surprise. The characters are superbly drawn; portrayed as whole people, the various elements of their identities are not the entirety of who they are.
Inspiring and heartwarming. (Fiction. 12-16)