Eighteen-year-old Juliet, also known as Harley for her beloved motorcycle, has two distinct sides to her personality.
Harley is spirited, adventurous, motorcycle-riding, sometimes “speeding down a leather-black highway at a hundred miles an hour,” but also soul-searching, lonely, and devastated by her beloved young mother’s untimely death in a house fire. Out of her despair Harley formulates a plan to ride her Hog from Los Angeles, where she is living with her mother’s close friend, to New York City, where she plans to scatter her mother’s ashes. Her accomplice on the trip is her first boyfriend, Dean. They are strongly attracted to each other, but the relationship makes her confused and angry. She dreads having to give up her freedom and is afraid of committing to Dean too deeply for fear of being abandoned a second time. The other complication is the fact that she discovers that she is pregnant with Dean’s child. Several cathartic events unfold during the road trip—finding the jewelry store where Harley’s mother bought a favorite necklace, meeting her father for the first time, seeing a consoling vision of her mother, and finally her decision whether to carry the baby to term and what to do after. Harley’s voice is earthy, colloquial, and wise, her first-person narration vivid and sometimes funny. Both Harley and Dean are white.
Readers will resonate with this gritty, expletive-laced, fast-paced narrative about a strong young woman trying to come to terms with great loss. (Fiction. 14-18)