You know the story: Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Heartbreak ensues.
Nineteen-year-old Albert loves surfing, avoids his abusive father, and works with horses trained for therapy riding. That’s where he meets Maddy and her sister, Bee, who has autism, epilepsy, and other unspecified developmental disabilities requiring 24/7 care. Outside of work, Maddy has devoted her whole life to helping her single mother and sister and has no expectation or desire for change. But now, with Albert, she can’t help dreaming of something more…This weepy New Zealand romance is marketed to John Green fans but reads more like an old-school tear-jerker spiced up with tasteful sex. Albert is the ideal boyfriend—gorgeous, athletic, charming, infinitely supportive—even saddled with a cardboard bully parent. Maddy demonstrates more nuance, if inconsistently; a devastating revelation is never mentioned again, and her avowed passion for photography appears only when narratively useful. Bee’s many disabilities are described with realism and sympathy, but she is portrayed as a bundle of symptoms grafted onto a saccharine stereotype: “innocent, heartbreakingly so.” Maddy never expresses frustration or resentment since her sister functions only to teach patience, tolerance, and unconditional love. Except for half-Maori, half-white Bee, who has a different father than Maddy, all main characters present as white; one incidental Thai character speaks only in painfully fractured English.
Delivers a good cry but not much else. (Fiction. 14-18)