Joshua and Maddie, both preacher's kids, were best friends when they were younger, until Maddie's father moved the family to Norfolk. Now Maddie's back in town. Her father, having refused to pay her tuition at Brown, has sent her to an aunt's house to straighten up after years of too much boys and booze. Joshua, PK that he is, is sure he can save Maddie, but angry and hostile, she has resolved to stay the way she is. Both the characters and situations are stock. Maddie's father, though unseen, is a one-dimensional bad guy, and Josh's parents could use a little nuance themselves. More interesting are the decisions Josh has to make as desire to become closer to Maddie—in every way—becomes more intense. Similar to Johnson's last offering, My Life as a Rhombus (2008), this also features a troubled young woman and a nice young man, but it's Joshua's confusion about how narrow his path must be that keeps readers turning pages. And the kissing doesn't hurt, either. Grades 10-12. --Ilene Cooper
About the Author
Varian Johnson is the author of the critically acclaimed My Life as a Rhombus.
He lives in Austin, Texas.