In western New York, high school senior Betts is tired of her parents’ micromanaging and of always playing it safe. At the candy store where Betts works, she meets Aiden, a boy with a difficult past and endearing qualities (a motorcycle named after Ralph S. Mouse, for example), and an earth-shaking attraction strikes: “I felt like whatever he wanted me to be, I’d be it.” When Aiden’s affection turns toxic, Betts gives him the benefit of the doubt, trying to demonstrate selfless love as his behavior becomes jealous and controlling, reveals an undercurrent of simmering anger, and turns physically abusive. Betts’s best friend, Jo, and her twin, Eric, show kindness and concern, playing an effective foil to obsessive love—even as an explosive public incident shows everyone, including Betts, the truth. This emotionally resonant YA debut by Rissi (The Teacher’s Pet) meaningfully highlights known patterns of intimate-partner abuse and speaks to the joy and importance of enduring friendship. Further elevating the story are romance rendered alongside a Bechdel-Wallace Test reference, female sexuality written without shame, and a group of funny, authentically written teens. Ages 13–up. Agent: Meredith Kaffel Simonoff, DeFiore & Company. (June)
Reviewed on: 07/16/2018 Release date: 06/01/2018 Genre: Children's
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