When the boy you love asks you to keep his greatest secret, do you? A thought-provoking, achingly complex novel about prejudice and the many meanings of love from Nina de Gramont, author of Meet Me at the River, which Kirkus Reviews calls a “must-read.”
Fifteen-year-old Wren has been content to stay in her best friend Allie’s shadow. It doesn’t bother her that Ally gets the cutest guys, the cutest clothes, and even a modeling gig—Wren is happy hanging with the horses on her family’s farm and avoiding the jealousy of other girls. But when Tim, the most intriguing guy in school, starts hanging out with Allie and Wren, jealousy is unavoidable, but not the kind Wren expects. Because even though Allie is wayyy into him and Wren hasn’t flirted, not one little bit, it becomes increasingly clear that Tim prefers Wren’s company above anyone else’s.
Tim’s unexpected devotion comes at the exact time Wren’s home life is about to be turned upside down. Her parents have just found out that the family horse farm is on land that was once a slave plantation and are struggling with whether to sell it. Wren aches at the thought of losing her horses and leaving town, but at least there is Tim...always a gentleman on their dates. Such a gentleman. Too much of a gentleman, even, and Wren begins to wish he’d be a wee bit less gentlemanly. And as Tim’s church becomes actively homophobic, his pressuring parents don’t understand why he won’t help “spread the word,” and he’s now a wreck. Then he tells Wren something he’s never told a soul, and Wren must decide what she’ll really do for love.
Wren and her best friend Allie are starting sophomore year at a new high school, and a chance run-in with an alligator proves to be an unlikely attention-getter for Wren, who's worried about being invisible. Then, at Wren's first school party, she is accidentally knocked into a bonfire and gets a terrible burn on her hand. This unexpected turn of events, which might mean the end of Wren's guitar playing, fades from her mind as she becomes concerned about anti-gay prejudice at her school, her family's history as slave owners, financial difficulties that could result in the loss of Wren's family's farm, her faltering friendship with Allie, a role in the school play, and more. Wren has a lot going on, in other words too much for the novel to carry effectively. De Gramont (Every Little Thing in the World) leaps from one problem to the next so frequently the many plot threads feel jumbled. By the end of the book, readers may be left wondering what the story was really about. Ages 12 up.