A powerful and gripping contemporary YA from the author of I'm Not Her that's "Just right for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jodi Picoult."—Booklist
The truth is that Jess knows she screwed up.
She's made mistakes, betrayed her best friend, and now she's paying for it. Her dad is making her spend the whole summer volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
The truth is she wishes she was the care-free party-girl everyone thinks she is.
She pretends it's all fine. That her "perfect" family is fine. But it's not. And no one notices the lie...until she meets Flynn. He's the only one who really sees her. The only one who listens.
The truth is that Jess is falling apart _ and no one seems to care.
But Flynn is the definition of "the wrong side of the tracks." When Jess's parents look at him they only see the differences—not how much they need each other. They don't get that the person who shouldn't fit in your world... might just be the one to make you feel like you belong.
Ever since Jess's mother was attacked in a random, violent assault and subsequently fell into a depression, their family has fractured, and Jess's own behavior has become destructive. After Jess is caught drinking, sunbathing topless, and running up her parents' credit card, her father forces her to spend the summer volunteering at a local shelter. Privileged Jess is fearful and judgmental at first, but she soon befriends Wilf, a cantankerous elderly volunteer, and falls for a boy named Flynn, who brings his younger brother to the shelter for meals. Jess and Flynn's attraction is immediate and intense, but their friends and families don't want to see kids from different neighborhoods together. Jess's conversations with Wilf are gratifying, and her evolution into a more conscientious person comes across organically. Yet the story is weighed down by occasionally mawkish dialogue ("Fair is a place that has corn dogs and Ferris wheels. It's not real life," Flynn responds when Jess complains that life isn't fair) and the rehashing of plot. Ages 14 up.