Like Water

320p. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062373373.
Gr 8 Up—Vanni is stuck in small-town New Mexico, dreams of college dashed by her father's diagnosis of a chronic condition that will soon render him unable to care for himself. Loyal to her parents and their hard-earned family business (and fearful of whether this genetic condition has been passed down to her), she has resigned herself to a life of restaurant-work drudgery, flings with local boys, and watching her friends go out into the world without her. When she meets Leigh and Lucas, twins who have recently relocated from the northeast, things shift for Vanni in ways she never expected. Initially drawn to Lucas, she soon realizes that Leigh fascinates her more than any boy she's ever met. The two young women soon fall deeply in love, leading Vanni question her sexual identity. Leigh is mischievous and daring, pushing Vanni out of her comfort zone (and sometimes into trouble, like getting fired from the local water park where she played a mermaid). She is also critical of Vanni's resignation and insists that she, Leigh, will be leaving New Mexico the moment she turns 18. Their relationship is passionate and rocky, but ultimately life-changing for Vanni. A strong coming-of-age story, if at times just slightly predictable for sophisticated readers, this book should have wide appeal for teens who feel trapped by their circumstances and family obligations.
VERDICT A good selection for most YA shelves.

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