My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Forgive me, but I don’t really care about either of you, Maggie and West.
I get it, you’re going through tough times, but what, I ask, what does your attractiveness have to do with it?
Why is Maggie such a looker? Does her suffering become more poignant and her bravery more heart-rending because her milkshake brings all the boys to her yard?
Does West’s jerkish behaviour and general misogyny become more acceptable because he’s a hot guy with a dying father? Would this still be forgivable in a less handsome young buck?
I strongly suspect the answer is yes to both questions.
What should have been a fairly compelling story is rendered inane by the painful stereotypicality of the characters and their interactions.
The boys all want Maggie (and its the star football team no less) from the moment they lay eyes on her. Maggie can speak when its convenient, and she still sounds like the chime of bell made of moonbeams after years of staying silent.
She hadn’t whispered this time. The sweet Southern drawl in her voice was beautiful. It wasn’t high-pitched, just a touch deeper.
As for West, that poor sad boy, he goes around like a cat in heat but it’s all okay because he’s just misunderstood. He acts genuinely horrible to Maggie, but it’s fine, because lurve. The only consistent about him is his inconsistency. An example – he wants to win the football cup for his dad, but unlike Brady, won’t give up drinking to do it.
I had to win the state championship for my dad. He wanted it. He’d been saying that my senior year was our year. I was determined to give him that. No matter what I had to do.
The one fairly interesting development where Maggie tells West to cool off for a bit because he’s too possessive lasts exactly ten minutes, and doesn’t actually lead to any character growth. Also, most annoying of all, this book is so far from passing the Bechdel test that it might as well be from another planet. Female-on-female hate is so pervasive. West’s mother is hated by every other woman in town (except for the angelic aunt Coralee). Maggie herself never has a normal conversation with another girl. NOT ONE.
I don’t know about you, but when I move to a new school, I usually try to find a fellow female I can get along with, and everything else comes after that. I agree high school is a bit toxic, but for the most part, it’s not this weird. People do have normal healthy relationships, and even the unthinkable platonic friendship is quite common. This book is so determined to be a television drama that it comes out caricatured.
I’m not really hating on the lack of plot here, and to some extent, the Mary Sue-ness can be overlooked, but there is no reason to exclude female friendship. I would argue that even male friendship in the book is treated badly – whatever happened to the bros before hos code?
It’s ok to write a cliched romance, but there should be some consideration of what kind of example is being set for the intended readers, especially if it’s YA.