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by Tara Kelly

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: May 25th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9010-9
Publisher: Henry Holt

After living with a series of her mother’s boyfriends, Drea and her mother move in with Drea’s stern, ill-tempered grandmother in tiny Bellingham, Wash. There Drea, who has never fit in because of her mild Asperger’s, meets her first friends: moody, impulsive Naomi and seemingly wholesome Justin. The three form a band—Drea produces electronic music as a hobby—but tensions develop when Naomi becomes reckless with her drug use and Drea’s involvement with Justin becomes physical as well as emotional. Complex and multifaceted characters give this story warmth, heart and maturity. Drea’s diagnosis informs her experiences and behaviors but refreshingly does not define her character, which readers get to understand through her direct first-person narration. The drama ramps up to an explosive ending that in a weaker story might feel cheap and manipulative but here feels true; similarly, the resolution of tensions works because the author has brought her characters through a difficult and believable journey. Aside from one sudden sex scene that is too uncomplicatedly joyous to be credible, this is a nuanced, sympathetic portrait that earns its hard-hitting climax. (Fiction. 14 & up)