Plot: L.E. DeLano’s third YA novel describes in cringing detail the trials and tribulations of high school, a challenge for all girls, but especially so for Blue Mancini, whose brother Jack was involved in a car accident that resulted in the death of classmate Maya Rodriguez’s father. Now’s Jack’s in a detention center and Maya, after a year’s absence, is coming back to school. Maya has vengeance on her mind, and everyone is curious to see what will happen.
Prose/Style: DeLano has an excellent ear for teens’ idiomatic speech and is able to convey its tone without making it sound like a parody. The vocabulary and syntax are perfectly attuned to junior high school age skills and so this is an easy read for its intended audience.
Originality: This is a fast-paced novel focused more on feelings and the social world of teens than on physical action. While the basic premise of the plot is unlikely, DeLano creates a consistent world around that premise, making the novel a credible version of reality. She also includes a boyfriend with secrets to add some suspense.
Character Development/Execution: Blue comes to understand how her life differs from Maya’s in that they come from very different backgrounds. Blue is a child of privilege, where good lawyers can extricate people from difficult situations, while Maya is a scholarship student at the private academy they both attend. Blue begins to question her acceptance of white privilege and Maya comes to see that not everything she sees as bigoted is intended that way.
Date Submitted: July 27, 2021