They say that no good deed goes unpunished, and Mena, a freshman in high school, would certainly agree. All Mena wanted was to undo the wrongs her friends had done against a gay student at their school, but now her church, a large part of the school, and maybe even her own parents hate her. The best she can hope for this year is to lay low and keep things as uneventful as possible. Instead, a war breaks out between her ex-church friends and her cool new biology teacher, and somehow she finds herself right where she doesn’t want to be— in the middle of things. And then there’s her new lab partner Casey, a brilliant geek guy who is no less willing to pull her into the chaos than fate seems to be— and complicates life in more ways than one. Everything just keeps escalating; but will it be for the better, or the worse?
This was a light and enjoyable read. The primary characters were very rich and loveable. Basically, I felt like reading it when I saw it on my shelf, which is really the biggest test for a book. The story was interesting and fresh, and just fun. I loved Casey (he’s adorable! Nerdily, chivalrously adorable), and I loved their dynamic together (adorable). I wanted to see what they would say to each other next. I could never really predict it. I almost felt like Casey was a real person that I was trying to get to know. He, and the other main characters, had a realistic quality to them that brought the story to life.
Mena is a vastly admirable character, because she’s not loud and self-righteous or a natural activist type. She doesn’t fight injustice for the sake of hearing her own voice; she would much rather hide in the shadows. She does the things she does because the voice of rightness inside of her is so forceful that she’s incapable of not doing something about it. No matter how much she would like to, she’s unable to stand by when she sees something she knows is wrong. And she acts even when she’s scared to death, and even when her entire community and even her own family is against her. What could be more laudable than that?
I maybe felt like there could have been a more to the story. I was a little surprised when it ended, and would have liked a bit more resolution. And there are other ways it could have been expanded, like more development of the minor characters, and/or more information about Mena’s past and the events leading up to the start of the story. But I understand that it was what it was. The author clearly intended to make the past a little cryptic, and the future a little open-ended, and just focus in on a small period of Mena’s life, a period of transformation for her. And I can live with that.
Reading this made me happy. And I’m happy I read it.
Squee, because it was really sweet how Casey was there for Mena when nobody else was. 🙂
Soaring Eagle for inspiration because Mena is a really cool person, who stands up for what’s right while still respecting people of all different opinions and not just bashing her opponents and making ad-hominem attacks. And she’s only a freshman! Way to go.