An anxious, lonely introvert discovers that the most fulfilling friendships can’t be planned.
Caroline Sands has always been intensely socially awkward; she’s never been able to cultivate healthy long-term friendships. Several years ago, Caroline and her mother relocated from New York to Arizona, a move the white girl thought would solve her problems. She’d finally make friends and fit in. Sadly, the new high school graduate is as lonely as ever. To appease her worried, overbearing mother, Caroline created a vibrant social life for herself, borrowing characters from the late-1990s TV drama Felicity. In reality, Caroline spends hours snuggled up to her computer watching its reruns. Now that Caroline herself is off to college, she’s determined to become the person she knows she can be—college is her chance to “get it right.” Her plan? Befriend her longtime unrequited love, popular white boy Liam (like Felicity, she chose her college based on the decision of her crush), and his friends will be hers. Predictably, it doesn’t work out that way. Caroline’s melancholic voice narrates the ups and downs of a rarely easy life transition that can be all the more difficult for an anxious introvert like her. While her “coping mechanism” (as her therapist calls it) is comical, the narrative takes Caroline’s anxiety seriously and treats her respectfully.
Readers struggling with self-esteem, loneliness, and isolation will find a kindred spirit in Caroline; others will find empathy for that classmate who sits alone at lunch. (Fiction. 14-18)