cover image Just a Girl

Just a Girl

Carrie Mesrobian. Harper, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-234991-0

In small-town Wereford, Minn., high school senior Rianne has a reputation as an easy hookup: “She was Hat Trick Girl; she wasn’t someone you took to prom.” As graduation nears, Rianne finds herself with a steady boyfriend, a mother who has basically washed her hands of her, a father suddenly back in the picture, and no plans for what’s next. As in her previous books, Mesrobian (Cut Both Ways) writes meaningfully about teens who aren’t bound for college and the complexity, intensity, and double standards of teenage sexuality. Rianne’s infamous “hat trick” night mostly involved kissing. Her first sexual encounter, as a sophomore, was clearly rape—she was blitzed on pot, he was a college student—though she just thinks of it as regrettable. And most of the sex she’s had hasn’t been particularly satisfying. This depressing picture changes when she hooks up with Sergei, an attractive Russian in his 20s. Genuine sexual pleasure is a decided improvement, but as Rianne and Sergei grow closer, it feels less like she’s making decisions for herself and more like she’s still being defined by sex and men. Ages 14–up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Mar.)