Prim Brighton, a high school junior, agrees to accompany sullen Jonah to a party only after the senior reluctantly promises to participate in a community-service project. Soon, sparks are flying in this opposites-attract romance.
Initially, Jonah and Brighton’s “date” is merely a businesslike agreement. Jonah needs Brighton’s beauty to make an ex-girlfriend jealous, and Brighton needs Jonah’s participation as part of her project to honor her late father. Their early interactions are largely contentious, as Jonah offends Brighton by describing her carefully cultivated “nice” persona as symptomatic of a lack of interests. But revelations and radical changes in perceptions must happen quickly considering the novel’s short time frame, and Schmidt seems to compensate by relying on formulaic situations to move the plot along. Jonah becomes suddenly protective of Brighton when she attracts the unwelcome attentions of a brutish older guy at the party, and Brighton earns respect by gushing about horror movies during a late-night impromptu pizza dinner with Jonah’s friends. Meanwhile, Brighton begins recognizing Jonah’s sensitive side while observing him with his hometown friends and listening to stories of his father’s abandonment. Her growing understanding allows her to see his observations about her personality less as critiques and more as permission to shed the burden of pursuing her father’s legacy at the cost of her own personal interests.
Predictable but with some sweet moments. (Fiction. 12-18)