Beverly’s senior year takes unexpected twists and turns when she befriends the most popular guy in school after he attempts suicide.
Everest Finley, quarterback and top of the social pyramid at Shady Hills Academy, suffers from depression. Following a suicide attempt, he’s alive but not doing well. His wealthy parents are self-absorbed, and his popularity at school plummets. As he begins a downward spiral, he befriends Beverly, who is a bit of a social outcast and described as the only black girl at their predominantly white school (a biracial black and Asian girl seemingly does not count). The story of Beverly and Everest’s budding romance—and Everest’s budding music career—is told in alternating first-person chapters. Unfortunately, Everett’s and Beverly’s narrative voices sound the same, which hinders their character development. Beverly’s blackness seems incidental to the story, and both Everett’s and Beverly’s parents feel like caricatures. And some big questions are left unanswered: Why does Everest’s suicide attempt make the local news just because his father is a corporate bigwig? Why does Beverly’s mother, who works as a hairdresser and doesn’t make much money, somehow manage to send her to private school but then sabotage Beverly’s efforts to make a better life for herself?
This ambitious novel tackles tough topics but ultimately suffers from plot weaknesses and lack of character development. (resources) (Fiction. 13-18)