In which people saunter, seethe, and swagger way too much…
I read this book in a day; which felt great as I've had problems reading anything--let alone to completion--in a a long time. I finished the book, which means I liked it; I spent most of the day wishing I liked it more.
It's the story of a girl, Holland, coming out. And out and out and out and out… (No seriously, she comes out on every page to the point where I started wishing she'd do something else.) It hasn't aged terrible well; nor does it feel super dated. I have an older sister who is gay, out and proud so a lot of the conflict felt luke warm to me, but I'm trying to keep personal experience out of my mind. I really wish this book started on page seventy-nine instead of page one. But yeah… I finished it; I liked it.
Peters' must have had a sketch pad on which she jotted down the fifty most tense, nerve wracking plot scenarios she could come up with; this entire list she came up with was awesome. Then she pared the list down and managed to cram as much as she could into the book by dialing back on all that made each scenario awesome to begin with.
'Should have started on page seventy-nine," aside, I don't know how this book didn't have more momentum and power. A teenager coming to terms with sexual identity while in a healthy and positive sexual relationship with the opposite sex, and being the most popular, image-conscious kid in the school. It reminded me of Michael Chabon's short story Son of the Wolfman that I felt fell flat even though it was working with such strong material.
I erased about twenty paragraphs in writing this next phrase: I never bought into Holland being gay. At the snap of a finger, she sees a girl. Learns this girl is gay. That's all it takes. Now, Holland is gay. Her character wasn't that shallow, but it wasn't much more substantial either… All the problems--inherent to the story's framework--that could have been exploited but weren't: Seth, Holly's boyfriend, their eventual fallout and all the other subsequent boys she has to fight off; her family stepsister, stepfather; the student body president bit did nothing for the story even though she can identity a hate crime and bullying when she sees it; why use any of that material?
At the end of the day Holly didn't strike me as a three dimensional character, thus made for a very week protagonist.
There is a great story in here somewhere (starting on page seventy-nine) but I didn't feel it was ever uncovered.