cover image Anyone but You

Anyone but You

Lara M. Zeises, . . Delacorte, $15.95 (245pp) ISBN 978-0-385-73145-4

Critter and Seattle's relationship goes through major upheavals at the beginning of a hot summer when the step-siblings both find romance, and when Seattle's long-absent father suddenly returns. Readers may be unsettled by their feelings for each other (17-year-old Critter fantasizes about 15-year-old Seattle, and they eventually kiss), but the author creates enough depth in her protagonists to give their complicated relationship more than shock value. Through alternating perspectives, readers follow the pair as Critter meets Sarah, a rich and pretty lifeguard, and Seattle as she bonds with Scott over their mutual passion for skateboarding. But these secondary characters lack the same depth and seem to be there only to prove Seattle and Critter's connection ("You guys have been acting really off. Like, jealous and possessive of each other," Seattle's other stepbrother tells her). Readers will appreciate that the author does not push for any easy resolutions: Seattle is angry when her father comes back suddenly after a six-year absence, claiming depression and apologizing for being a "horrible father." When he leaves again, Seattle says she does not care but then "melt[s] into [Critter's] hug." Even the relationship between Seattle and Critter remains undefined. In the end, Zeises (Contents Under Pressure ) presents a sophisticated novel about family, love and growing up. Ages 14-up. (Nov.)