When We Were Infinite

Kelly Loy Gilbert. Simon & Schuster, $19.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-5344-6821-4
High school senior Beth Claire, a violinist, is desperate for her friend group and fellow orchestra members—Brandon, Grace, Jason, and Sunny—to stay together through college. Given her white father’s departure, and her distant relationship with her Chinese American mother, friends are everything to Beth, bringing vibrancy to her otherwise “not as dazzling” existence in Congress Springs, Calif. When Beth and Brandon inadvertently see Jason’s father assail him, Beth finds herself willing to do anything to keep their friendship intact and help the group regain a sense of normalcy. But she also finds herself reevaluating her habit of people pleasing, for the first time cultivating authenticity over likability. Gilbert (Picture Us in the Light) capably portrays facets of the Asian American friend group’s various experiences, including living up to educational demands and personal sacrifices made by previous generations. Though Beth’s selflessness at her own expense can initially feel frustrating, her gradually increasing confidence is heartening, and prevailing themes of true friendship offer readers a promising message of hope. Ages 12–up. Agent: Adriann Ranta Zurhellen, Foundry Literary + Media. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 02/04/2021
Release date: 10/01/2020
Genre: Children's
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