With You All the Way

HarperTeen. Mar. 2021. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062693198.
Gr 9 Up–Sixteen-year-old Ada is on a quest to lose her virginity. She was on the cusp with her boyfriend Leo, but then caught him cheating on her. When her family travels to Hawaii the next day to attend her mother’s annual work conference, Ada—full of anger and self-pity—decides to make a (consensual) conquest of family acquaintance Nick, an awkward 16-year-old boy she’s known for years, as they always meet up at this yearly event. As Ada navigates this tricky landscape, she also makes some unpleasant discoveries about her parents and older sister, Afton. Like many protagonists in coming-of-age stories, Ada is unsure about who she is and wavers between being bold and insecure. With genuine dialogue, believable inner monologues, and a good dose of cringe-worthy moments, Hand realistically portrays the confused Ada, as well as the other multi-dimensional supporting characters. Overall the narrative is smooth and the descriptions of a lush Hawaii, including some historical and cultural background information on the locale, make for an engaging read. Ada, Afton, and their mother are white; Ada’s stepfather is Black; and Ada’s younger half-sister is biracial.
VERDICT A breezy read about a serious topic, recommended for mature readers.

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