Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Catherine Lo
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Annie and Jessie each dread school for legitimate reasons, but when they become instant best friends, worries disappear. Their opposites-attract magnetism feeds what each girl is missing: Jessie craves Annie's confidence, and Annie would give anything for Jessie's close family. Even inside the best friend relationship, though, each girl struggles and suffers through her own secret battles. Jessie refuses to tell Annie about her anxiety, and Annie can't share her excitement about falling in love with Jessie's longtime crush. As their individual fears are fueled by gossip, rumors, and assumptions, their friendship falls apart in the midst of a drama-filled high school culture. Each girl reaches a crisis—separately, alone. As they push their way back to individual stability, they discover that their friendship might be worth fighting for as well.
Distinct alternating voices keep Annie and Jessie's personalities clearly defined. Readers can feel Jessie's anxiety and Annie's anger in every narrative thought. As their friendship builds and then unravels, the inevitable betrayals leave aftershocks in each of their recoveries. Each character recognizes and discovers her need to rescue herself, not wait to be saved. Between them, these characters delve deeply into many risky behaviors (over-medicating, drinking, sex, lying) to protect their vulnerabilities. The writing is compelling, the plot fast-paced, and the message clear: As good as it is to have a best friend, the need to care for yourself will overpower all other relationships. Readers should be aware that there is a description of abortion in this book.
*Contains moderate language, moderate sexual content, and moderate drug abuse.