Caroline is sixteen-going-on-seventeen, the only child in a loving and attentive family. Although she has dated before, she falls hard for a grocery store clerk named Jake, who is three years her senior, and she becomes embroiled in an intense relationship with him that includes sex. Her parents think he is okay, but they don’t like the fact that he is so much older and doesn’t seem to have any ambition. (They don’t know about the sex.) They also worry that he takes up so much of her time that her relationships with other friends have fallen by the wayside.
Jake and Caroline have a secret plan to run away together in a few months and are saving their money to do so—she, by working in an aquarium gift shop for the summer. Working at the aquarium brings Caroline into contact with some pretty good kids who are also working there, primarily as counselors. She gradually becomes included in their circle, and, in particular, forms a best friendship with a girl named Georgia.
Caroline likes her work, her co-workers, and her parents. As she grows over the summer, she finds herself falling out of love with Jake, though she does not recognize it. She begins to notice he is selfish and dismissive at times, that the sex is getting a little boring, and that the plans for their taking off together are changing in unsatisfactory ways. She is very fortunate that others around her (her mother, her boss, and Georgia) notice when things seem amiss. They provide her with good counsel and advice, but she finds it hard to adjust her world view.
Like many girls and women in luuuuvvvv, Caroline discounts her own feelings in favor of keeping her man happy. Even though her body and mind are sending her huge clues, it takes others to point out to her what should be obvious. Luckily, she comes to her senses before making a messy mistake, and she jettisons the very unhappy and disappointed Jake, who then says very nasty things to her. To be charitable, he himself is still young and (hopefully) maturing.
This book is well written. The characters are varied and well realized, and the story moves along in an interesting way. It would be a good book for a group discussion with teenage girls.
Unfortunately, there is a LOT of coarse language. Let me repeat my frequent complaint here, that the dominance of such harsh language hinders the expressive impact of sensitive feelings and themes. There are also repeated and explicit sexual incidents.
I can’t see putting this book on a public school library shelf, despite the important ideas included in it.
Categories: Body Acceptance, Bullying, Controversial YA Topics, Dysfunctional Relationships, Mental Health, Offensive Language in YA Literature, Parent Conflict, Peer Relationships, Social Media, Summer Camps