cover image With You All the Way

With You All the Way

Cynthia Hand. HarperTeen, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-269319-8

Things start going wrong for “quiet, nerdy” Ada, 16, just as her family prepares to travel from Silicon Valley to Hawaii for a conference that her surgeon mother attends annually. The decision of whether to have sex comes between Ada and her popular swimmer boyfriend; Ada and her older sister fight about whether Ada’s ready for intimacy; and then her beloved stepfather, an ER nurse, decides not to accompany the family to Hawaii. In so-called paradise, she gets stuck babysitting her five-year-old sister and worrying about her parents’ marriage—and that’s before she glimpses something she shouldn’t in her mother’s room. Together, the incidents make Ada wonder why sex is such a big deal, and if and when she’ll ever have it. To answer the second question, Ada asks sensitive, smart Nick, another conference kid, if he’d like to join her in bed. Though readers will understand what Ada saw before she does, and some may be uncomfortable with how often Ada and her sister blame their successful mother for being absent, Hand (The How & the Why) effectively depicts Ada’s thought process—confusions, assumptions, hopes, and fears. Even better, the book is a thoughtful ode to consent and to taking sex, and its power to bring people closer and push them apart, seriously. Ages 13–up. Agent: Katherine Fausset, Curtis Brown. [em](Mar.) [/em]