They Could Have Named Her Anything

290p. Little A. Aug. 2019. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9781542003742.
Maria Anís Rosario, a young Latinx woman, is a scholarship student whose long subway ride from Queens to Manhattan's elite Bell Seminary reminds her daily of the distance between herself and her schoolmates. White and wealthy Rocky Albrecht's challenge to authority fascinates Maria because her own family expects her to stay focused. Maria's explicitly sexual relationship with Andres, however, is unsatisfying, and when Rocky tells a shocked Maria that personal pleasure is her right, Maria is grateful for her friend's openness about a taboo subject. Maria's experience of the monied world is eye-opening. At a diner Maria and her friend Karen can't afford, Rocky's pals nibble at the edges of their French fries before throwing the rest of their overpriced lunches in the trash. But Maria also sees that Rocky's home life is cold and that her parents are remote. Rocky has a harder road and knows it, pointing out to Maria that a loving family is one thing money can't buy. Though the plot—that of a working-class character entering a world of privilege—of this debut novel is predictable, it nonetheless offers sharp insights about teens from different worlds.
VERDICT Highly recommended for mature audiences.

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