Dessen's realistic portrayal of contemporary teens and their moral challenges breathes fresh life into well-worn themes of rebellion and first love. Halley has always been close to her mother, a therapist who publishes books about adolescent behavior. But the summer before her junior year of high school, Halley begins cutting the umbilical cord. She and her best friend, Scarlett, start hanging out with Ginny Tabor (""a cheerleader with a wild streak a mile wide and a reputation among the football team for more than her cheers and famous midair splits""); Halley dumps her nerdy boyfriend (the son of her mother's best friend) and becomes involved with reckless Macon, a boy her parents have forbidden her to see. Then Scarlett discovers she is pregnant two months after her boyfriend Michael is killed in a motorcycle accident. Walking a line between childhood and adulthood, the two girls turn to each other instead of their families for support. Together they explore the meaning of love, sex and responsibility. This romance/coming-of-age story is not as tightly written as Dessen's debut, That Summer; it suffers from some scenes reminiscent of soap opera and from flat presentations of almost all the adult characters. But Dessen's fully developed characterizations of charismatic teens, particularly the rebel-without-a-cause-type Macon, are sure to attract readers--especially those who, like Halley, have felt the urge to take a walk on the wild side. Ages 12-up. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/04/1998 Release date: 05/01/1998 Genre: Children's
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