When 15-year-old Finn's childhood friend Jersy returns to town, Finn is instantly attracted to him but says nothing as he gets together with her best friend, Audrey. Audrey is almost too good to be true, providing an endless supply of sympathy for Finn's complaints about her parents' fighting. Audrey is also Finn's cheerleader as Finn tries to work up courage to talk to her crush and deal with the aftermath of an ugly incident in which a popular senior tries to force Finn to perform a sexual act. When Audrey leaves town for the summer, Finn can no longer fight her attraction to Jersy, which turns out to be mutual. The connection built between Jersy and Finn doesn't feel strong enough to convince readers that Finn would betray Audrey, and the story of Finn's parents' breakup drags. Finn is easy to relate to, with her doubts and inner voice that critiques her every social interaction; however, as a romance and family drama, the story comes up short. Ages 14-up.
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Children's Literature - Stephanie Dawley
Set in suburban Toronto, this is a painfully realistic novel about a fifteen-year-old girl named Finn. Finn appears normal on the surface. She has a best friend, loves music, does well in school, and dreams of being a graphic designer in New York or London one day; but, inside, she carries a secret that makes her feel like a freakish outsider in her own life. Audrey, her best friend, is the only one who knows the truth. Audrey is sent away for the summer though, and Finn is left to fend for herself. On top of all of this, Finn's parents are getting divorced, and she has no idea what to do with her feelings of resentment and anger towards her father. As she and Audrey's boyfriend, Jersy, begin spending more and more time together, it becomes difficult to hide their feelings for each other. Finn feels torn between her love for her best friend and her blossoming feelings for this "Beautiful Boy" who makes her feel normal again. This young adult novel is well-written, with realistic dialogue and likable characters. Sexual content, references to drug use, and adult language make it suitable for older teens. Reviewer: Stephanie Dawley
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Ninth-grader Finn's story begins in the middle of winter as her life continues to fall apart. Her parents are headed toward divorce, and she is trying to cope with her own private trauma from an incident that happened in September. Matters are made worse when her best friend, Audrey, is sent to live with relatives during the summer, leaving Audrey's boyfriend, Jersy, alone. As everyone else in Finn's life becomes distant, she and Jersy drift dangerously closer. This novel is difficult to read because the time line jumps forward erratically, with little transition between days and months. Only important events in Finn's life are narrated, which gives readers little insight into the characters' thoughts and actions and creates a jarring effect instead of a flowing narrative. An interesting plot will occasionally make up for a lack of character development, but that simply doesn't happen in this book.—Heather E. Miller, Homewood Public Library, AL
Finn's family is falling apart at the same time she's falling for her best friend's boyfriend. As the school year transitions into summer, Finn's father moves out and her mother retreats to her bedroom. Her confidante, Audrey, is sent on a forced vacation for dating Jersy, Finn's childhood friend, and Finn finds herself increasingly attracted to Jersy's supposed stability. Martin delivers the same genuine and powerful voice in her sophomore novel that garnered praise for I Know It's Over (2008). Finn embodies the outsider teen, with her forays into reinvention and concomitant retreats into familiar territory. Authentic emotions resonate throughout the text, and the upbeat ending flows naturally from the story rather than being forced into the summer-romance archetype. Readers will find strains of Sara Zarr and Laurie Halse Anderson in the prose, but the author is innovative, not derivative. The perfect temperature for a summer read or a cool discussion, and an outstanding second novel. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2009:
"The perfect temperature for a summer read or a cool discussion, and an outstanding second novel."
Read an Excerpt
Things don't always change with a bang. Sometimes they change so gradually that you can't clearly pinpoint the last moment they were truly the same. That's the way it was with my parents. I know they were happy--but I couldn't tell you exactly when.
Audrey says they could just be going through a bad patch and that things could start changing back when I least expect it. Anything is possible. That's almost the truth, but it doesn't fill me with hope. Anything is possible makes me feel like someone's scraping at the inside of my rib cage with dull scissors. If you kept that idea in your head, you'd never leave the house for fear you'd be crushed by a runaway bus or gunned down in the mall parking lot.
Anything is possible is something I prefer not to think about, but I don't always have a choice. Some nights are just like that. The sick feelings creep up on me until I want to shout so loud that it would make my parents come running. I never do, of course. It wouldn't help, and my parents would cart me off to some highly recommended shrink that would want to know everything.
And there are things I could say, but not anything that I actually want anyone to hear. There are thoughts in my head that I can't get out, but I have my own trick for dealing with them, which is to let other things in, as loud and furious as I can.
Tonight, for instance, I have to keep pulling off my earphones to listen for my dad's key in the front door. Raine Maida screams "Naveed" in my ears. Listen. Then it's "Where Are You," "Innocent," and "Yellow Brick Road." Listen. The pounding in my ears, the sound of Raine's voice like burning gold, and the blanket pulled all the way up to my chin is the nearest thing I know to an antidote, but if Dad hears the music he'll open the door and ask why I'm still awake. It's happened before. I used to keep the bedside lamp on, and a couple months ago, around two in the morning, he tapped at my door and asked if I was sick.
"No," I told him. "Just a little insomnia." My face felt like a bleached white sheet, and I was scared that he'd sense my bad feelings and try to put them into words.
"You could try turning down the volume," he said, smiling.
A guitar riff was screeching out of the earphones around my neck, and I furrowed my eyebrows, puffed out my cheeks, and said, "Ha. Ha." Everyone is so sarcastic these days that it's practically boring, but I need all the crutches I can get.
"And turning off the light," he added, still hovering in the doorway in his plaid pajamas and slippers, looking like a sitcom TV father that can solve any problem within thirty minutes.
"You're funny, Dad." I pulled an impatient face. "Anyone ever tell you you're a funny guy?"
"Not my teenage daughter," he said, smile as wide as ever. "Don't go deaf tonight, Finn. You have school in the morning."
I nodded and watched him shut the door, the sickness stretching tight across my face the moment he was gone. My skin feels that same way now. Like a mask that doesn't fit anymore. Like I'm not the person anyone thinks I am--not even Audrey. But if I'm not that person, just who am I instead? I'm not the girl who slinks soundlessly through the school hall pretending nothing can touch her. That much I do know.
Listen, I tell myself. Just listen. Listen. Everything will be all right, as long as you stop your mind and listen.
And this is the way it goes for a while. Me listening to Raine's voice in my ear. Me waiting for Dad's key in the door. My heels are itchy dry in my socks. My lips are cracking and my fingertips will be next. The air in my room is colder than anywhere else in the house except the basement. My mother says she doesn't know how I can stand it, but I like the contrast. This is me in bed in the middle of winter.
Everything will be all right.
From the Hardcover edition.