From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up—This novel, told from multiple perspectives, is about an end-of-the-school-year party at a "typical" middle-class high school. The 11 narrators include an outcast, a skater, an immigrant's son, a jock, and a lady's man, among others. All of these teens have their own expectations for the gathering, and their reasons for going range from simply getting drunk to expressing their love to making new friends. The first character presented, Beckett, is immediately intriguing, and the format allows readers to get to know her (and all the other characters) through the eyes of more than one person, lending depth to the story. But sometimes this device means that information about a single character is simply repeated rather than enhanced by a new viewpoint. For this reason, readers may be left wanting more from one point of view when the story has already moved on to another (not necessarily a bad thing). The party is raucous and wild, culminating in a drunken flirtation (and subsequent rejection), a racially motivated fistfight, and the arrival of some friendly policemen to break it all up. This is a quick and entertaining read. Some strong language and sexual content make it most appropriate for older readers.—Nora G. Murphy, Los Angeles Academy Middle School
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As “everyone from school” descends on a Santa Barbara party, 11 teenage partygoers narrate their experience of the night’s drunken sexual encounters, a fight fueled by racial epithets, several reconciliations, and the sweet start of a new relationship. First-time author Leveen uses the varied points of view to touch on myriad issues, from the loss of a parent to sex, religion, and the war in Iraq. Despite the often-heavy subject matter, the young narrators’ compelling and largely believable voices lighten the tone of the novel. Their yearning to connect with each other shines through their pained actions, awkward slang, and frequent bursts of profanity. As the various threads of the story begin to converge, the author wraps everything up neatly for an upbeat ending. Although the plot feels somewhat contrived, it is ultimately satisfying to see the characters—from jock to outsider—begin to overcome their pain and affirm the value of deeply held relationships. Grades 9-12. --Miriam Aronin