cover image When We Were Them

When We Were Them

Laura Taylor Namey. Atheneum, $19.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-5344-7127-6

In this slowly unfolding, character-driven narrative set during graduation week in San Diego, sentimental white surfer Willa Davidson, 18, revisits life-altering moments featuring her estranged best friends, mezzo-soprano prodigy Britton, who is white, and driven, medical school–bound Cuban American Luz Martín, as she wonders how to earn back their trust after they discover a secret she’s kept for months. Through the trio’s memory box, Willa remembers formative experiences that deeply bonded them—such as her younger sister’s near drowning; Luz’s brother Nico, with whom Willa is romantically entangled, leaving for boot camp and the Navy; and Britton’s clashes with her new stepfather—while trying to discover what led her to betray their friendship shortly after Nico’s sudden death. As readers gradually piece together the book’s central relationships, Willa begins to understand the grief, fear, and insecurity that motivated her actions, and finds the courage within herself to rebuild broken connections. Female relationships take center stage in Namey’s (A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow) narrative about growing up, growing together, and, sometimes, growing apart, which will especially resonate with readers facing high school’s end. Ages 12– up. (Nov.)