From the author of Annie on My Mind comes an unflinching novel about prejudice, censorship, and homophobia in a New England town.
As the editor in chief of the Wilson High Telegraph, senior Jamie Crawford is supposed to weigh in on the cutting-edge issues that will interest students in her school. But when she writes an opinion piece in support of the new health curriculum—which includes safe-sex education and making condoms available to students—she has no idea how much of a controversy she’s stepped into.
A conservative school board member has started a war against the new curriculum, and now—thanks to Jamie’s editorial—against the newspaper as well. As Jamie deals with the fallout and comes to terms with her own sexuality, the school and town become a battleground for clashing opinions. Now, Jamie and the students at Wilson need to find another way to express their beliefs before prejudice, homophobia, and violence define their small town.
Issues, not characters, drive this story, a retread of the themes and setting in Garden's Good Moon Rising. Jamie Crawford, a senior, has achieved her goal of becoming editor-in-chief of her small New England high school's paper. She is also fairly sure she is gay, and when Tessa Gillespie, a new girl from Boston, shows up wearing a red cape and a star-shaped stud in her nose, Jamie starts falling in love. Tessa happens to be straight, but as it turns out, Jamie's unrequited love causes her less anguish than the rise to power of fundamentalist Mrs. Buel. A "stealth candidate" during her campaign for a seat on the school committee, Mrs. Buel leads the committee to set aside the new sex education curriculum and stages a book burning on Halloween. The liberal faculty adviser to the school paper is put on leave, and Jamie is forbidden to weigh in on controversial subjects in her editorials. While turning out the rah-rah paper the new faculty adviser insists on, Jamie and her staff eke out the time and energy to publish an underground paper. Another plot line concerns the outing of Jamie's best friend and the swim team star he is attracted to: lockers are defaced, and Jamie and her friends are nearly attacked in the cafeteria. Garden pays less attention to her characters' emotional lives than to their political passions. Unfortunately, if the characters don't seem real, their passions won't ignite readers. Ages 12-up.