Five high school seniors face major choices.
White, fat lineman Brian Mack has a concussion; should he play in the big game or quit the team in order to prevent further injury? Mexican-American Allegra Rey has been accepted to Stanford, but her mother is terminally ill; should she stay home or go to college? White detention-dweller Wiley Otis is Allegra’s best friend, and he’s been in love with her for years; does he tell her and risk losing her friendship? White girl Nikki Foxworth loves her boyfriend, but should she have sex with him? Black, gay, “deviously bitchtastic” Cole Martin-Hammer wants desperately to get into an elite school; will he cheat on the SAT in order to achieve his dream? Deeply drawn characters and skillful use of multiple first-person narratives take readers down two possible paths, “Road One” and “Road Two.” Nikki confronts sexism and double standards head-on by refusing to be prude- or slut-shamed. Cole is a gossipy cliché, but he’s redeemed by a gradual maturity. Unquestioned by characters or the text, Wiley’s behavior indicates he believes he’s earned romantic status because he’s been a good pal to Allegra; this can be problematic.
“Destiny or decision?” The answer may be unknowable, but Steinkellner gives readers something to think about. (Fiction. 14-18)