“We Are Okay” by Nina LaCour

“We Are Okay” (Dutton 2017) by Nina LaCour, is the winner of the 2018 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. This gorgeously written brief story centers on Marin and her survival of grief. LaCour begins Marin’s story in an upstate New York college dormitory, emptied of girls who have gone home for the holidays. A snowstorm is looming. It’s a perfect gothic touch and oddly, I longed to be in this lonely setting. It’s no coincidence that Marin is obsessing over “The Turn of the Screw” and “Jane Eyre.”

In copious flashback we learn that Marin is an orphan, raised by her grandfather in the San Francisco Bay Area. They lived near a beach where her mother had drowned when Marin was a toddler, in a surfing accident. Marin never knew her father. Marin’s best friend growing up, Mabel, is coming for a dreaded two-day visit to the dorm, before returning home to the Bay Area.

Marin remembers herself with Mabel coming of age in sunny California. She says, “It was terrifying, the idea that we could fall asleep girls, minty breathed and nightgowned, and wake to find ourselves wolves.” A perfect metaphor. This is realistic fiction.

The story is largely told in Marin’s musings. About growing up, Marin says, “ . . . there’s a difference between how I used to understand things and how I do now.” And “ . . . even the fiercest denial can’t stop time.” And yet another: “The trouble with denial is that when the truth comes, you aren’t ready.” These insights come amidst the setting of growing up carefree alongside the ocean—an enviable upbringing.

Here’s a universal experience. “I listened to the same heartbroken song the entire bus ride home, because it was still a summer when sadness was beautiful.”

In cold New York, Marin is coming to terms with her grandfather’s secrecy. They’d lived comfortably together, he having given her loads of freedom. Marin had thought she’d known her grandfather, but was mistaken. Now she constantly mulls over the tragedy that occurred at the end of the summer. “There are degrees of obsession, of awareness, of grief, of insanity. . .Each time I thought I may have understood, some line of logic snapped and I was thrust back into not knowing.”

Mabel arrives, the snowstorm hits, they’re isolated from the outside world, and they begin to repair their broken relationship. Marin must face what she’s run so far from. In the end there is hope, which is one of the things I love about young adult literature. Almost always there is hope.

I haven’t bawled like this over a book in a long time. (Thank Heavens I was home). Not because it’s so sad, but because it’s so emotionally beautiful. There were many terrific books published in 2017, but I agree with the Printz committee that this story rises above the others.

 

Patricia Hruby Powell is author of the young adult documentary novel Loving vs. Virginia and Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker   talesforallages.com

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“The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime that Changed Their Lives” by Dashka Slater

“The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime that Changed Their Lives” (Farrar Straus Giroux 2017) is nonfiction brilliantly pieced together by journalist, Dashka Slater. Using interviews, letters, videos, diaries, social media posts, and public records, she tells the story of the victim, Sasha, who is white, affluent, brainy, agender—that is, doesn’t identify as any gender—and attends a private high school.

The perpetrator is the understandably naïve, black, ghetto-raised Richard, who attends a huge public high school. He didn’t know that he shouldn’t speak to the police without a lawyer or even an adult present. Slater tells us that 90% of youth do the same. Richard says—or might even have been coerced—into saying things, which make officials consider this a “bias crime” or a “hate crime.”

When the reader gets the whole story, derived from bystanders and friends on the 57 bus, it looks more like one teen impressing his cohorts—not necessarily “hate.” After all, Richard had sought out help from a counselor at school to pull himself out of a spiral that takes so many black youth into a life of crime. He’s a nice kid. He has a mother who might be overwrought but she cares deeply.

The gender and sexuality glossary starting on page 33 is enlightening. Agender Sasha has asked to be described as “they” or “them.” The author, in solidarity, complies. She says you get used to it. Thank heavens “they” was used only in Sasha’s short chapters, because I had a hard time translating the plural to the singular. Some gender fluid people prefer the new pronoun, “ze” or “xe,” which I wish would catch on.

The author describes scientific research and brain development during adolescence. During puberty the brain lines neural pathways with a fatty sheath—myelin—“making them about a hundred times faster than unmyelinated circuits.” The adolescent limbic system becomes more sensitive to things in the environment and sends an emotional response: “Avoid! Investigate! Eat! Fight! Flirt!” The pre frontal cortex controls reason, planning, and deliberation. She says, “ . . . while teenage emotions have gone into hyperdrive, reason and logic is still obeying the speed limit.”

She says juvenile justice studies find “that around the world antisocial behavior increases by a factor of ten during adolescence and then begins to taper off as people reach their early twenties.” Not just in America, not just one the California Bay Area, where this story takes place, but “around the world.” This is the nature of adolescence.

We get to know the families of both Sasha and Richard. They go through waves of emotions, but both sets of parents are good. They’re trying.

This highly-researched well-written cautionary tale invites empathy, provokes discussion, and ultimately gives one faith in humanity.

 

Patricia Hruby Powell is author of the young adult documentary novel Loving vs. Virginia and Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Joseph

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“I Have Lost My Way” by Gayle Forman

Three teens collide in Manhattan in “I Have Lost My Way” (2018) by Gayle Forman. Beautiful bi-racial Freya has been rising to fame as a singer when she inexplicably loses her voice. Harun is first generation American from Pakistan, Muslim—and gay—running away in order to keep his secret. Nathaniel arrives in New York from Washington State with only a backpack and a desperate plan.

Wandering in Central Park, after yet another fruitless doctor’s appointment, Freya trips on a stone bridge, falls on to and knocks out hapless Nathaniel, a tourist walking below the bridge. Freya commandeers Harun, who witnessed the accident, into helping. Nathaniel gains consciousness but is clearly concussed, so the other two take him to an urgent care facility. Thus their day begins.

Harun’s ex-boyfriend, James, is a super-fan of Freya, which leaves Harum not only awestruck, but entertaining the idea of getting James back by his association with her. Freya is avoiding her manager because she he’s about to fire her for her present lack of voice. Nathaniel says he’s meeting his father uptown, but his story is flimsy. Something is amiss.

Secrets are uncovered through the course of the day as the three get to know each other. Each has experienced huge loss. One is a betrayer, one a coward, and one a victim. Freya’s Ethiopian father returned to Africa years ago, which was a monstrous betrayal, and Freya betrayed her sister. Harun has lost James because Harun won’t come out. But he’d lose is family if he did. Nathaniel, raised by a single and singularly irresponsible father has lost his eye, his place on the baseball team and all his friends. The three find hope in each other. At one point each realizes that the other two might be their only true friends.

Things aren’t tidily wrapped up at the end, yet we know their connection could save them. My favorite line is: “To be the holder of other people’s loss is to be the keeper of their love.” Forman adds, “To share your loss with people is another way of giving your love.”

“Own voice”—that is writers writing from their own culture—whether it’s one’s ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability—is much in the news. There’s a lot to be said for writing from cultures that one has lived daily. Authors have gone so far as to say that if they are Americans who come from Cantonese speaking ancestors, they are not “eligible” to write about Americans who come from Mandarin speaking ancestors. Taken to an extreme, can women only write about women? Men only men? I saw that writing is about empathy—getting inside people’s skins, so that the reader can do the same.

Gayle Forman is white woman, of Jewish background. None of her three characters fit that “same voice,” though Nathaniel is the closest as a white straight male. If one followed the “same voice” rule or approach, it would mean that this book could not be written, or would have to be written by a committee. And who would want that?

 

Patricia Hruby Powell is author of the young adult documentary novel Loving vs. Virginia and Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker   talesforallages.com

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“Turtles All the Way Down” by John Green

“Turtles All the Way Down” (2017) by the acclaimed and very best selling young adult author, John Green, is the brilliant story of Aza Holmes who suffers acute anxiety. The plot is incidental, but compelling.

 

Sixteen year old Aza is kind of smitten with Miles Pickett, who she’s known since they were little kids. Miles’s super-rich and super-corrupt father has gone missing and there’s a hundred thousand dollar reward to find him. Aza and her best friend Daisy have a lead, but will Aza pursue the mystery and betray Miles and his younger disturbed brother, Noah?

 

Best friend Daisy is a riot. Aza is her straight man. When Aza tells Daisy she’s the unsung hero in the investigation. Daisy tells her, “You’re sung.” I love Daisy. I want a girlfriend like Daisy who will make me laugh all the time. Daisy works at Chuck E Cheese in Indianapolis where the acclaimed author lives. She says, “I have the soul of a private jet owner, and the life of a public transportation rider. It’s a real tragedy.” Or instead of saying hello she asks Holmesy, “Have you ever gotten a dick pic?” Holmesy says yes. Daisy says, “‘Well, of course you’ve seen one, Holmesy. Christ, I’m not asking if you’re a seventeenth-century nun. I mean have you ever received an unsolicited, no-context dick pic?”

 

But the real story is Aza’s anxiety. When her mind starts “spiraling” with feelings of fear, Ada’s mother advises her not to think about it. But Aza knows “You can’t choose. That’s the problem.” About taking her medication (which Aza often forgets) she had “some way-down fear that taking a pill to become myself was wrong.” Green, who knows anxiety, delivers lengthy passages describing the circular and tortuous thought paths. Sometimes those passages bored me, and sometimes caused me so much anxiety that I couldn’t continue. If you don’t understand anxiety, read this. If you do understand anxiety, read this.

 

There are times when the brilliant girl narrator (Aza, aka, Holmesy) sometimes sounds like a brilliant middle age man, such as when she reports that her therapist “had the single greatest resting poker face I’d ever seen.” But the writing is so brilliant it’s forgiven.

 

And what about the title? A particular unnamed culture believes that the world sits on the back of a turtle. Well what does that turtle stand on? Another turtle. And that turtle? Turtles all the way down—a look at infinity. It turns out it’s a cosmological expression of infinite regress. I didn’t know.

 

John Green shows us that it’s okay not to be okay. Thanks, John. Good message.

 

Patricia Hruby Powell is author of the young adult documentary novel Loving vs. Virginia and Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker   talesforallages.com

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“Bull” by David Elliott

I admit that myths don’t generally hold my attention. I skim them and never quite get to the end. But this? Oh, yes.

In verse, David Elliott brilliantly casts the story of Theseus and the Minotaur in “Bull” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2017). The bawdy and profane Poseidon, King of the Sea, is the involved narrator. He begins: “Whaddup, bitches?/ Am I right or am I right?/ That bum Minos deserved what he got./ I mean, I may be a god, but I’m not/ Unreasonable, and when I am, so/ What?”

When King Minos of Crete doesn’t fulfill his promise to the gods, Poseidon punishes him by making his wife, Queen Pasiphae of Crete, “have a thing/ For the white bull’s thang.” Yes she does. As a result of Pasiphae’s thing for the bull’s thang, she gives birth to Asterion who has the “head of a bull, body of a man, a.k.a. Ruler of the Stars, a.k.a. the Minotaur.”

We watch Asterion grow up—sweet, kind, smart—and troubled. His mother loves him: “In his eyes/ I see the/ sun I see/ the moon I/ see the stars/ and all the/ tilted/ whirling/ galaxies/ I see the/ undiscovered/ constellations/ I see the/ Earth I see/ nations I/ see soil and/ root and branch/ and leaf I/ see fruit I/ see seeds of . . .” The lines of Pasiphae’s poems become shorter as the story progresses, giving us the author-intended feeling that she’s coming unhinged—“off her nut,” as Poseidon tells us.

Poseidon reports on Asterion: “He’s the oldest of eight. That royal uterus is clearly first rate.” The other children—all wholly human—include daughter Ariadne and the super-athlete, Androgeos—Minos’s favorite. As for all stories that are passed along orally, there are differing versions, but in all, Androgeos dies young. In this version, it’s after competing and winning the shot put and javelin in Athens. Poseidon admits to having a hand in the death.

Now King Minos hates Asterion—the monster, the minotaur—even worse. Minos has Daedalus, the royal engineer, build a dark airless labyrinth, where Asterion, now seventeen, goes mad. But Ariadne plans to save her sweet brother and together they will escape the island of Crete.

See what I mean? It’s all so confusing. And who cares? (Sorry to you classicists).

But in this version I care. The tragedy feels so . . . tragic. And Poseidon keeps us laughing. About King Minos, Poseidon says: “Man!/ that guy’s a dick!/ But also so much fun/ To hate./ Like all dicks, though,/ He’ll soon deflate,/ And there’s no little blue pill,/ No herbal tea/ That will restore his “potency.”/ Well, one man’s dysfunction/ Is a god’s delight.”

Poseidon is not done making mischief, ensuring the tragic ending. If you know your mythology, I’m giving nothing away. If you don’t know your mythology, this is the place to find out. It’s all in the telling.

 

Patricia Hruby Powell is author of the young adult documentary novel Loving vs. Virginia and Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker   talesforallages.com

 

 

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“Gem & Dixie” by Sara Zarr

“Gem & Dixie” (Balzer & Bray 2017) by Sara Zarr is a story of two sisters who were once close, but now growing apart. Gem, the older sister has always taken care of Dixie, because their mother couldn’t even put food on the table and their father was absent. Now that they’re teens, Dixie is street-smart and popular, Gem is friendless and still trying to care for her family.

Zarr, a National Book Award Finalist, writes nuanced honest descriptions about relationships that are gripping. As Gem, she says, “[Dixie] wanted to pretend like Mom was another one of her friends, another girl with boyfriend drama and body issues and money problems who didn’t need to hear shit from anyone about how she should live her life.” Unfortunately, that’s what Mom think, too.

About Dixie, Gem says, “I stared, she stared back. For her it was a game. She thought I was trying to get her to look away first. But really it was me trying to see who I was through Dixie’s eyes, me wondering if she evaluated me and my face and clothes and body, the ways I made it through the world, like I evaluated hers.”

With so few strokes Zarr brings to life secondary characters such as Gem’s in-school counselor: “Mr. Bergstrom leaned back and put his hands behind his head. I liked that about him, how relaxed he could be like the only thing in the world that he had to do was listen to me.”

It’s rough having an absent father, but it can be worse if he returns. Gem seems to be the only one who views the situation realistically. But the ever-so-errant father leaves something behind that allows the sisters to go on a road trip near their Seattle home. The adventures and people they meet bring Gem to the realization of what she must do. “I couldn’t think who I was without Dixie to take care of, or Dixie to avoid, or Dixie to be mad at. Dixie to feel hurt by, Dixie to feel jealous of.”

When an author speaks this well, I think it’s best to let her do most of the talking—about her book. In spite of having a totally different background, I saw so much of my sister and me in these sisters. If you have a sister, read this. If you want to understand sisters, read this. And read anything else by Sara Zarr, as well. You won’t be disappointed.

 

Patricia Hruby Powell is author of the young adult documentary novel Loving vs. Virginia and Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker   talesforallages.com

 

 

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“One of Us Is Lying” by Karen M. McManus

High School student, Simon, created an app called “About That,” which outs his classmates of every mistake they commit—big and small. So everyone is afraid of him and, well, he doesn’t have a lot of friends, in Karen M. McManus’s debut novel, “One of Us Is Lying” (Delacorte 2017).

Simon and four of his classmates are held for detention by Mr. Avery, on charges of having their phones on them during school. The phones were planted on them. They’ve been framed.

But detention takes a terrible turn when Mr. Avery is called away and Simon starts choking, unable to breathe, and no one can find his asthma EpiPen. Simon is taken by ambulance to the hospital.

Left behind are two girls and two boys of differing demographics and descriptions.

Bronwyn, the brain, is the child of a wealthy Colombian businessman and caring mother who met at Yale where Bronwyn is set to go.

Cooper is a talented baseball player, part of the popular crowd, boyfriend to the gorgeous Keeley, with an overzealous lower middle-class sports-obsessed father, and caring mother.

Addy, a prom-queen beauty, is the child of a single-mother who has trained her daughters to catch a man. In Addy’s case that’s Jake, who’s pretty controlling. They’re equally attractive.

Nate is the guy with an alcoholic father and vanished mother, who is on probation for dealing drugs.

(I’m looking at this and thinking how the mothers here get a bad rap—or are at least subsidiary. But that’s not the story).

Simon dies in the hospital—so now what we have is a murder mystery, set near San Diego. Simon had the goods on all four of his classmates, and all four have secrets. How far would each of them go to keep his/her secret? And in spite of Simon being dead, social media keeps running a little more dirt on each of the four suspects, via “About That.” But Simon has gotten it wrong for one of the suspects. Information exists that would ruin the individual, so why hasn’t Simon, who seems to be omniscient, not have gotten that one right?

That piece of information can leave the reader/mystery-solver running down the primrose path. Throughout the whole book, you’re thinking, I’ve got it. Then a bit later, No, now I know who did it. But you’re not sure. This is why this is a best seller and being translated into 30 languages and was shortlisted for the National Book Award.

It’s being described as “The Breakfast Club” meets “Pretty Little Liars.” I think it’s better than that. It’s a page-turner supreme—not just for young adults, but for adults, too.

 

 

Patricia Hruby Powell is author of the young adult documentary novel Loving vs. Virginia and Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker   talesforallages.com

 

 

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“Spinning” by Tillie Walden

 

“Spinning” (First Second 2017) is Tillie Walden’s graphic novel memoir about living the disciplined life of a competitive skater. The story follows Tillie from a very young age to eighteen years old, and a move from one skating program in New Jersey to a less elite program in Texas, giving the reader a somewhat varied look at this competitive world.

Every morning young Tillie, unsupervised, gets up at 4:00 a.m., and makes her way by bus, in the dark, to takes figure skating lessons. After school there’s synchronized skating and on weekends there are competitions, which she frequently wins or places. At times, Tillie finds a certain ecstasy in skating. Plus it takes her away from being bullied at school and from tensions within her family. Her parents pay her fees, but no family member attends her competitions. There are rink fees that Tillie is unaware of and hasn’t paid and other skaters’ mothers cruelly bring this to her attention. It makes you wonder about this competitive world. Are the mothers more competitive than their children? Does competition promote cruelty?

Which is better? An aloof family or a hovering family?

The illustrations superbly show Tillie growing up over the years, as well as the emotional strain that she feels—without the whiz-bang-pow that is found in so many comics. One feels Tillie’s isolation, her sadness, her awkwardness. The drawings also show the beauty of the body skating, that only a skater/artist could depict so accurately. You feel the chill of the ice rink. You experience the odor of artificial freezing.

Each chapter opens with a specific skating trick and Tillie’s personal connection to it—such as “A camel spin is basically a spinning spiral. It was a dizzying move and always sent my glasses flying off my face.” Or flip jumps. “I loved flips. You would launch yourself in the air by slamming the tip of your blade in the ice.” The pictures show the moves.

You feel Tillie’s strength—both physically and emotionally. She seems to have little or no adult guidance, except from her coaches. Early on, she knows she’s gay. One of her early skating coaches is the object of her affection and perhaps this young woman is why Tillie continues skating. The coach cares about Tillie—really sees her.

Tillie finds her first girlfriend in middle school—which is very sweet—until a parent disrupts the relationship. The honesty of the story, without sensationalism of any sort, gives this book so much integrity. We see Tillie soar and fall, soar and fall.

As an aside, Tillie takes cello lessons, and eventually she’s able to confide in her teacher—another wise woman to whom Tillie gives credit. Along the way, Tillie finds art, which draws more of her passion than skating or music does—and for this, the reader can be grateful.

And all this from an author who is just now twenty-one years old. I feel certain we’ll be seeing more from the talented Tillie Walden.

 

 

Patricia Hruby Powell is author of the young adult documentary novel Loving vs. Virginia and Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker   talesforallages.com

 

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“Long Way Down” by Jason Reynolds

Fifteen year old Will is burning to avenge his brother’s murder, in “Long Way Down” (Simon & Schuster 2017) by Jason Reynolds. Most of the novel-in-searing verse covers about one minute of Will’s life.

Will knows the rules of the hood: “No crying. No snitching./And always get revenge.” And those rules? “They weren’t meant to be broken./ They were meant for the broken/ to follow.”

His brother Shawn was shot on the playground. Of course Will is devastated. “Couldn’t hear nothing./Ears filled up with heartbeats/ like my head was being held/ under water.”

And: “In the bathroom/ in the mirror/ my face sagged,/ like sadness/ was trying to pull/ the skin off.”

So, Will knows who killed Shawn. He’s sure of it. He finds Shawn’s gun in his drawer, tucks it in the back of his jeans: “felt the imprint/ of the piece, like/ another piece/ of me,/ an extra vertebra,/ some more/ backbone.” Will enters the elevator on the seventh floor on his way to get to the basement apartment—to the guy who did it.

On the sixth floor Buck gets on. But Buck is dead. But he’s in the elevator, smoking. It turns out Buck gave Shawn the gun. He tells Will to check to see if it’s loaded. Will discovers one bullet is missing. Shawn must have shot the gun. Will didn’t know Shawn had ever taken a shot.

On the fifth floor a really cute teenage girl gets on. She knows Will. Or knew Will. It turns out she’s the one that got killed by a stray bullet when they were about five years old and together at the playground.

On each floor another person gets on. They’re all dead people. His father, who was killed in the neighborhood, following the rules. But then the next guy was going to follow the rules. And do you always pinpoint the right murderer? The chorus of ghosts consider this.

This moral thriller is a poignant look at teenage gun violence, Longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People, and on virtually all the “Best Books of 2017.”

Reynold’s author biography printed in the book is a heartfelt love letter to his readership, letting them know that he cares about them. First and foremost he is a young black author speaking to his young black readership. He addresses reluctant boy readers, saying he doesn’t like “boring” books either. He makes the point: if the books are exciting enough, boys will read them. The verse, besides driving the perfect percussive rhythm for the story, allows plenty of white space on the page and is highly accessible.

The story and the driving verse makes this a universal read.

 

Patricia Hruby Powell is author of the young adult documentary novel Loving vs. Virginia and Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker   talesforallages.com

 

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“I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by Maurene Goo

Desi, a smart nerd and president of her senior class, has never had a boyfriend in “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” (FSG 2017) by Maurene Goo. Desi’s attempts at flirtation are so disastrous, that her two closest friends, Wes and Fiona, call them “flailures”—flirtation and failure? Get it?

Her neurosurgeon mother died when Desi was quite young. Desi lives with her auto mechanic father, Appa. Both parents came to California from Korea before Desi was born. Desi works hard to make Appa happy, but it’s hard for her to understand why he’s smitten with Korean soap operas, called K dramas. Until she realizes that here is the formula for romance. So she analyzes them for the steps to snag a boyfriend.

Goo both honors and deconstructs the romance formula via Desi’s analyzed steps. The first three of twenty-four steps, which also become the chapter titles are: “1. You are the Living Embodiment of All That is Pure and Good. 2. Have a Sad-Sack Family Story. 3. Meet the World’s Most Unattainable Guy.”

Unattainable Luca, transfers to Desi’s California high school. He’s a gorgeous graffiti artist and his social media presence reveals his fame. Desi’s heart starts a-beating. None of this would work if it weren’t so funny:

Desi asks Luca for a ride home from school.

“He cleared his throat. “Uh, well, I don’t know if we live close to each other.”

“What! We both live in Monte Vista, how freaking far could I possibly be from your house.” . . .You’d think I’d asked him to make a colonoscopy appointment.”

Desi is no shrinking violet. She’s flighty, smart, funny—and smitten. The combination makes for a charming character. Her flailures are pretty extreme. She didn’t want to look like she was coming on to him so she wears baggy sweatpants when she joins Art Club, where she figures she’ll see Luca. At the moment she asks him a favor, her sweatpants fall to the floor into a puddle at her ankles. Of course she’s humiliated. And everyone, including the reader, is laughing. Even before she begins her ridiculous pursuit, Luca is charmed by nerdy Desi.

In not too long, Desi and Luca are a couple. Desi accompanies Luca when he illegally “tags” public property. Specifically, he adds to and deepens other taggers’ existing graffiti and the art sounds pretty amazing.

Of course Luca eventually finds Desi’s written list of steps and his high-integrity artist self freaks and drops her. Desi is devastated.

The story plays out exactly along the lines of the analyzed steps/chapter titles, but Desi is oblivious. Still, Desi has a lot of life outside the romance.

Along the way you get a contrast between Korean and American cultures—the meaning of a hug; Desi’s description of Korean class distinctions. One gripe: the gorgeous girl on the book cover is not the girl I read about. Desi has so much more going on than physical beauty.

 

Patricia Hruby Powell is author of the young adult documentary novel Loving vs. Virginia and Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker   talesforallages.com

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