From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up–Drea is a high school junior in a new town, navigating through social networks that are extraordinarily uncomfortable for her because she has Asperger's syndrome. She is clueless to teen innuendo, body language, and facial cues. Her creativity flourishes in music as it is specific, precise, and as clear as the black-and-white keyboard. She is befriended by Naomi, who has a beautiful voice but dances too close to danger. Justin is kind, good-looking, and somewhat mysterious. He is a gifted pianist, and the teens form a trio. For Drea, first love with Justin is tricky, but seems no more so than for any young person. There are more times than not when she seems comfortable following Naomi along her turbulent path, which includes shoplifting, drug use, and an abusive relationship. Through Drea's eyes, readers see a cast of drama-teens self-absorbed in their edgy lifestyles. Unfortunately, there is just too much disharmony here and too little of what makes Drea tick.Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY
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Since early childhood, Drea has received diagnoses that vary from ADHD to mild Asperger's syndrome. “All I know is I make sense to me—it's other people who seem complicated,” she says. Yet after she and her single mom move from San Francisco to Bellingham, Washington, to live with Drea's cranky grandmother, Drea, a talented musician and aspiring “sound designer” who “had never even felt what could be considered a crush,” forms a band with wild, purple-haired Naomi and fellow new kid Justin, with whom she begins her first romance. Without overexplanation, debut novelist Kelly offers readers a strong, authentic sense of Drea's inner life and daily struggles, which include Drea's intense musical passion and her well-founded worries about Naomi and Justin. Fans of Rachel Cohn and David Levithan's Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2006) will recognize similarities in the dialogue and romance between music insiders, but this title leads to a sobering, tragic ending that underscores the message that all teens, regardless of how they're wired, struggle to find connection, meaning, love, and purpose. Grades 9-12. --Gillian Engberg