Teenage Dirtbag

Rebecca Montemurro. CreateSpace, $13.99 paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-4909-0886-1
Montemurro, who also writes adult novels as Stella Kelly, offers a YA romance in which opposites attract and sparks fly. Kyle, the titular dirtbag, is a musician with a bad rep at East McKinley High. Bettina is an overachiever under pressure from all sides; her family expects her to succeed, while her boyfriend just wants sex. Though Kyle and Bettina have barely interacted, they become fast friends when coincidence brings them together in Barcelona during the summer before their senior year. Once back home, they slowly form a relationship perpetually challenged by conflicting social circles, personal problems, disapproving families, and more. As the year unfolds, so does their tumultuous courtship and on-again, off-again love affair. Though the chemistry is real and the characters sparkle together, the narrative suffers from awkward pacing and frequent time jumps. There's also a disjointed lack of identity, as the story careens from summer love to teen drama, from a story line about Kyle's dyslexia to a breakup fueled entirely by Bettina's willingness to believe everything bad she hears. Without focus and balance, this romance has too much of a kitchen-sink feel. Ages 12–18.
Reviewed on: 11/18/2013
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