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3.5 2
by Kody Keplinger

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Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and a mama who's not exactly sober most of the time. Everyone in town knows the Dickinsons are a bad lot, but Bo doesn't care what anyone thinks.

Agnes Atwood has never gone on a date, never even stayed out past ten, and never broken any of her parents' overbearing rules. Rules that are meant to


Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and a mama who's not exactly sober most of the time. Everyone in town knows the Dickinsons are a bad lot, but Bo doesn't care what anyone thinks.

Agnes Atwood has never gone on a date, never even stayed out past ten, and never broken any of her parents' overbearing rules. Rules that are meant to protect their legally blind daughter -- protect her from what, Agnes isn't quite sure.

Despite everything, Bo and Agnes become best friends. And it's the sort of friendship that runs truer and deeper than anything else.

So when Bo shows up in the middle of the night, with police sirens wailing in the distance, desperate to get out of town, Agnes doesn't hesitate to take off with her. But running away and not getting caught will require stealing a car, tracking down Bo's dad, staying ahead of the authorities, and-worst of all-confronting some ugly secrets.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Keplinger (Lying Out Loud) explores the unlikely friendship between two girls: Agnes Atwood, who has a genetic condition that has left her legally blind, and Bo Dickinson, a member of the most notorious (and most maligned) family in a small Kentucky town full of gossips. Alternating between Bo and Agnes's perspectives, Keplinger tells this story backward and forward—Bo's chapters take place in the present, as Agnes and Bo skip town in the middle of the night, while Agnes's start at the beginning of their friendship, revealing the local reputation of the Dickinsons and how the two girls met and became close. Keplinger creates strong, distinct personalities for the girls through their first-person narratives; that readers never get Agnes's thoughts about being with Bo as they flee police is the story's main weakness. Agnes and Bo may share equal space on the page, but this is primarily Bo's story, with Agnes left explaining Bo's circumstances. This, along with the drawn-out mystery behind Bo's reasons for running, tends to frustrate the story's tension rather than build suspense. Ages 14–up. Agent: Joanna Volpe, New Leaf Literary & Media. (June)
Children's Literature - Heather Christensen
Bo Dickinson is a small-town girl trapped by her family’s wild reputation. Good girl Agnes, who is also legally blind, longs to escape the confinement of her overprotective parents. As different as they are, the girls’ shared desire to flee others’ expectations unites them. When Bo decides to leave her family and small town behind for good, Agnes does not think twice before joining her. Readers, however, will quickly realize that two seventeen-year-olds—one of them legally blind—are not likely to find success in running away. Keplinger puts both characters center-stage by having each narrate alternating chapters. Bo’s narrative begins in medias res, with the girls’ escape from town in the middle of the night in Agnes’s sister’s car. Agnes’s narrative backs up to the beginning of their friendship, slowly taking readers through the events that led to Bo running away. The technique builds suspense while slowly revealing clues about their relationship. This character-driven story focuses on the power of friendship to change lives, and it will be popular with readers of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han. Reviewer: Heather Christensen; Ages 14 up.
VOYA, April 2016 (Vol. 39, No. 1) - Rachel Axelrod
Agnes is legally blind, and leads such a sheltered life that she cannot even take the bus home from school or attend parties. Bo Dickinson has a drug addicted mother, an absent father, and is rumored to be the town slut. Although opposites, they become good friends through their kindness and acceptance of each other. Bo’s cousin Colt is almost a brother to her; they have grown up together and are part of the family “you steer clear of because nothing good can come of getting mixed up with that bunch.” Agnes has a different problem; her parents hover over her and limit her activities so it is impossible for her to be a normal teenager, until she begins sneaking out to go places with Bo. When Bo hatches a plan to leave town to find her father, Agnes decides to go along, thinking she and Bo will live together. They steal a car from Agnes’s family and begin their road trip, along the way visiting Colt, with whom Agnes has a sexual encounter. When Agnes discovers that Bo intends to live with her father, they separate and she gets in touch with her parents, leaving Bo to a disappointing meeting with her father, and an eventual return to the foster care system. The story contains many references to Bo being bisexual and an abundance of bad language, so it is recommended for mature junior and senior high readers. Reviewer: Rachel Axelrod; Ages 12 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Everyone in town knows who Bo is—one of those Dickinsons, nothing but trouble. Everyone in town knows who Agnes is—an innocent blind girl, obedient daughter, an angel from heaven. When they become friends, both teens prove everyone wrong. Told alternately from two different perspectives and points in the narrative, this realistic novel is a strong entry in the tradition of unlikely friendship books. Bo and Agnes have unearned reputations and expectations that stifle them in their small town and will resonate with readers with and without disabilities, from large communities and small. The portrayal of Agnes's blindness is well crafted, less about what she can and can't do and more about others' expectations. The depiction of typical blindness, rather than the dramatic full-dark blindness that is more often presented in literature, is very welcome, as are Agnes's mixed feelings about her accommodations and her parents' advocacy. Bo's experiences are somewhat more familiar to readers of YA literature but are well explored as well. Neither protagonist seems to be there to prop up the story of the other. Rather, both are fully realized characters on their own concurrent journeys. VERDICT A good unlikely friendship story with compelling characters and a nuanced portrait of disability and small-town life.—L. Lee Butler, Hart Middle School, Washington, DC
Kirkus Reviews
Two small-town Kentucky high school girls run away together. Bo, whose voice narrates the story going forward from the night they steal Agnes' sister's car, is a sober bisexual virgin who's widely considered the school slut. Most of her family members are drunk or in jail, her father ran off, and her mother's addicted to meth. Agnes, whose voice in alternate chapters narrates the story in flashback from the beginning of her friendship with Bo, is legally blind from birth and chafing at the restrictions her well-meaning but hardly adventurous family puts upon her. She also drinks beer and has had sex with Bo's cousin. The two narratives come at each other from a distance, then cross in a way that drains some of the tension out of the conflict: by the time readers understand the reason for the white girls' sudden departure, they also know that Bo has made promises she never intended to keep, which puts the entire escapade in an uncomfortable light. A pat ending feels tacked-on, but Bo and Agnes' unlikely friendship rings true and strong. Agnes can see lights and shadows, and she is competent at navigating familiar areas with the help of a cane; she can read with heavy magnifiers. Her blindness never feels stereotyped, nor does the sense of small-town suffocation. An ambitiously structured road-trip novel stumbles a bit but gets a lot right. (Fiction. 14-18)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)
HL600L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Kody Keplinger grew up in a small Kentucky town. During her senior year of high school she wrote her debut novel, The DUFF, which is a New York Times bestseller, a USA Today bestseller, a YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers and a Romantic Times Top Pick. It has since been adapted into a major motion picture. Kody is also the author of Lying Out Loud, a companion to The DUFF; Shut Out; andA Midsummer's Nightmare, as well as the middle-grade novel,The Swift Boys & Me. Kody currently lives in New York City and writes full-time. You can visit her online at www.kodykeplinger.com.

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Run 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
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