On the night of her 18th birthday, Valerie Simons accepts an offer to join San Francisco’s Red Bridge Wars.
Inspired by the Iliad and the gritty city of San Francisco, this fast-paced debut follows a teen’s quest for vengeance in the gang wars that killed her younger brother, Leo. The wars involve three fighting gangs: the Herons (dynastic families with money in the tech business), the Boars (a violent group of San Francisco natives), and the Stags (the newest and least-known of the three). Val is set on joining the Herons with her ex-boyfriend Matthew Weston, who comes from a Heron family, but a dangerous altercation on the highway leaves her with little choice when enigmatic Jax, the Stag leader, extends her a formal offer to join them along with the knowledge of who killed Leo. Wracked with guilt and fueled by revenge, Val is a likable yet flawed character who is struggling with her inner demons. Vivid descriptions and intricate details bring San Francisco to life, but a lukewarm love triangle and rushed ending leave something to be desired. Val is biracial (Filipina and white); some secondary characters are ethnically diverse and queer, but many are assumed white.
A promising debut. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14-18)