Aggi Frank and Max Granger grow up in seemingly idyllic fashion, with a countryside to explore, a beaver dam to watch being constructed each spring, and a nearby lakeshore where they enjoy bonfires and marshmallow roasts. Next-door neighbors, their families have shared a driveway and mutual friendship for many years. By their junior year of high school, Aggi’s and Max’s friendship becomes something much bigger, and they admit their deepening feelings for each other. They think their love will last forever and be something beautiful.
Then tragedy hits both families. A fatal car crash involving their older siblings throws their lives into turmoil. Aggi’s dad drowns his sorrows with alcohol and anger, while her mom withdraws and shuts out the world. Her younger sister, Grace, spends most of her time in another home. Max’s dad, meanwhile, places a restraining order against Aggi’s dad, who then forbids Aggi from calling, talking to, or ever being with Max. The poisons of fear, distrust and pain seem to be drowning Aggi. Max is also profoundly confused.
Mutual friends finally construct a way for Max and Aggi to talk, but more anger and hurt are hurled when Aggi’s dad discovers them together and confronts them. A second near-tragedy occurs with little Grace, ultimately giving Aggi and Max the opportunity to speak up for themselves and also bring their parents back to speaking to each other.
This well-told story compels the reader to have sympathy for both families and hope for a resolution. Resolution does begin, but without any sugar coating. Life is still not perfect, but there is hope. “It’s strange how anger and love oppose each other but sometimes work together to navigate you through the tough times.”
This book contains plenty of swearing (F-bombs in particular) and sexual references as well as instances of alcoholism and abuse. There is one female gay character. Profound losses resulting from the death of a sibling as well as from sibling abuse are explored. I can see where there is merit in sharing and researching these life experiences, but I would recommend this book only for older, more mature high-school-aged youth.
Categories: Addiction, Controversial YA Topics, Crime, Death and Grieving, Depression, Dysfunctional Relationships, Grief, LGBTQIA, Mental Health, Navigating through High School, Offensive Language in YA Literature, Parent Conflict, Peer Relationships, Violence