cover image Burro Hills

Burro Hills

Julia Lynn Rubin.. Diversion, $13.99 paper (244p) ISBN 978-1-63576-194-8

High-school junior Jack Burns dreams about leaving his remote hometown in California, but escape doesn't always feel possible. When new student Connor, a daring hotshot, arrives under mysterious circumstances, Jack falls head over heels. The two teens bond over similarly unstable families and a desire for freedom, and when they're together, the pessimism that surrounds them disappears, and not just because of the pot that Jack constantly smokes. They breathe life into each other through their growing relationship and imagine a future, but their confidence and plans are threatened by Toby, a drug dealer whom Jack's tied to, and their town's negative view of homosexuality. Rubin's contemporary first novel brims with lively prose and authentic depictions of first love, teenage interactions, and the arbitrary social rules that in high school seem like absolute law. The ending is a bit accelerated by overplotting, but the diverse cast of characters and their tumultuous experiences are realistic and relatable. Ages 14%E2%80%93up. (Mar.)