As nearly always happens with me upon reading a book that generates such strong opinions in both directions, I am puzzled by the negative reactions here. I’ve seen so many people saying they hate Chloe as a main character, and I’m like, why? She’s just a teenaged girl. Granted, one that is inspired by, among others, Paris Geller and Kat Stratford, so she’s a bit more intense and difficult than your average teenager, but she’s still just a kid, and kids make dumb choices. I very much enjoyed reading about her life in this book.
The plot kicks off when the most popular and beloved girl in their very Christian school pulls a Margo Roth Spiegelman, and runs off into the night, leaving a series of clues in her wake. But not before kissing three people: her boyfriend, her next-door neighbor, and our own Chloe Green, L.A. transplant to small-town Alabama who has two moms and is an out queer kid (I think she identifies as bi) in a place where that is very much not the norm. She’s got her circle of secretly queer friends and is just aiming to survive high school before she can leave forever, but she needs to beat Shara Wheeler to valedictorian first. If she can find her, and drag her back to school for a fair fight.
The way the hunt for Shara plays out is very fun. It ends up bringing new people into Chloe’s life more than it’s actually bringing her closer to finding Shara, at least through the first half or so. She actually gives the town of False Beach a chance for the first time. As always, McQuiston has a way with words that just makes me laugh. I tabbed the shit out of my copy so I’d know where all the best lines were in future.
My only complaint with this one was that it did that thing that stories about teenagers (or even adults) often do where their obsession takes a toll on their friendships and other relationships, and I just think it’s been done to death, and I wish it hadn’t been in this book. McQuiston could have found another way for Chloe’s best friend Georgia to be involved in the plot, and for Chloe and Georgia to come to terms with their futures in a different way than happened here.
A successful first YA outing for Casey McQuiston, and I’m now three for three on their books.