George Flynn is in love with Emily Schell. From their first meeting in high school, he’s completely smitten, with the pure and idealistic feelings that often characterize a deep first love. Friends for two years before their first kiss, their time together is measured with the benchmarks of school plays, the SATs, and wrestling matches – a high-school romance both happy and innocent.
Much of their time together is spent with Emily’s sister Katie, a sickly and lonely young girl who harbors her own feelings for George. Katie is smart, sarcastic, and witty – and serves as the couple’s unofficial chaperone. However, the summer after their senior year, when the trio heads off on a fishing trip together, what began as a fun romp becomes a horrifying disaster. Plagued by feelings of guilt, George and Emily struggle to make sense of the tragedy. Though they stay together for some time afterward – each trying to find their way into adulthood and out of the morass of complicated emotions – theirs is a love story with a definitive conclusion.
Filled with sweetness and yearning, White’s debut novel is a beautiful love story set amid catastrophe. It at once reminds one of the unadulterated joys in life, as well as the curveballs that same life inevitably throws our way.