Two isolated teens struggle against their complicated lives to find a true connection in this “timely and timeless” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) debut novel about first love and the wreckage of growing up.
Lily is returning to her privileged Manhattan high school after a harrowing end to her sophomore year and it’s not pretty. She hates chemistry and her spiteful lab partner, her friends are either not speaking to her or suffocating her with concerned glances, and nothing seems to give her joy anymore. Worst of all, she can’t escape her own thoughts about what drove her away from everyone in the first place.
Enter Dari (short for Dariomauritius), the artistic and mysterious transfer student, adept at cutting class. Not that he’d rather be at home with his domineering Trinidadian father. Dari is everything that Lily needs: bright, creative, honest, and unpredictable. And in a school where no one really stands out, Dari finds Lily’s sensitivity and openness magnetic. Their attraction ignites immediately, and for the first time in what feels like forever, Lily and Dari find happiness in each other.
In twenty-first-century New York City, the fact that Lily is white and Dari is black shouldn’t matter that much, but nothing’s as simple as it seems. When tragedy becomes reality, can friendship survive even if romance cannot?
Kara Lee Corthron is an author, playwriter, and TV writer based in Los Angeles. She’s the author of The Truth of Right Now, winner of the Parent’s Choice Gold Award. Her plays, including What Are You Worth?, Welcome to Fear City, AliceGraceAnon, and Holly Down in Heaven, have been performed across the US, and she writes for the TV thrillers You (Netflix) and The Flight Attendant (HBO Max). She’s a multiyear MacDowell Fellow and a resident playwright at New Dramatists.
In her debut novel, playwright Corthron crafts a haunting and disturbingly realistic tale of two teenagers from different worlds trying desperately to hold onto their artistic dreams while enduring the vapid wasteland that is their upscale New York City prep school. . . . A powerhouse of storytelling that feels timely and timeless.
– Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW
A “heady realistic novel” in which “writing strikes the right balance of pitchy and pithy—no words are left unchained or events unraveling as Dari and Lily experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.”
– School Library Journal
As they (Lily and Dari) grow closer, they find some comfort in each other, and if this was a predictable novel, their romance would heal all their wounds. But debut novelist Corthron eschews the easy path, especially when Lily, who’s white, displays careless, dangerous naiveté when Dari, who’s black, faces an ultimately tragic interaction with police officers. . . . focus on racial injustice becomes the most powerful of the novel’s subplots.
Corthron marks herself as a writer unafraid of taking up difficult topics relevant to teens’ lives.
– Publishers Weekly
This isn’t always an easy read, but it’s absolutely an important one. Read this one and be ready to talk about racism, violence, sexual choices, and the many ways adults in this story screw up and damage the children in this book.