St. Martin’s/Wednesday. Apr. 2021. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250253002.
Gr 9 Up–Lower-income white 15-year-old Grace Welles appears to be an exception at her third tier boarding school that caters primarily to upper-middle-class white students. However, dealing with class disparities is not one of the issues that fuels her anger. Her absent father, who has another family that does not know about her, loneliness, and her discomfort with herself drive most of her actions. From inappropriate crushes on teachers to shooting another student in the face with a slingshot, Grace’s emotions bounce all over in the raw way that many teens experience, but she’s so abrasive that it’s hard to be sympathetic. The slingshot incident introduces Grace to Wade, who is almost too perfect for her, and it is inevitable that something will cause a rift between them. Luckily, supporting characters Beth, Anju, and Derek are charming. Beth brings a frank honesty to discussions about sex and love, though her advice isn’t always spot on; Anju tries to break Grace out of her habit of coldly tearing others down; and bully Derek changes and grows throughout the story in ways that Grace doesn’t. Beth is white, Anju is Indian American, and Wade and Derek’s ethnicity isn’t stated.
VERDICT While this novel will resonate with certain readers, it is full of tropes and recommended as a secondary purchase for libraries where books centered on teen angst do well.

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