"I am not a slut." This is the opening sentence of this book and honestly, I almost closed it right then and there. I really don't enjoy seeing teenage girls reduce themselves to such crassness or to see themselves as sex objects and I am not interested in reading books that do it for them. But I kept going and got to know Liana who has left a trail of kisses all over town and Hank, a kid with Asperger's syndrome, who has an amazing knowledge of songs, guitars and music in general. They meet awkwardly in the ladies' room and then slowly get to know each other. Liana has decided she won't be kissing anyone this summer and Hank who struggles with social skills is about to get a cell phone and a girlfriend. Both of these kids bear labels-she's the one with the note in her wallet about being a slut and he is routinely referred to as various synonyms for homosexuality. Can you really sum a person up with one word? When you get to know someone over time, you start to peel back their layers and find out those really private things that make them who they are. Liana and Hank and their families have been handed some tough challenges but those aren't the things people see. The story is told in alternating perspectives between Liana and Hank. One of the toughest challenges anyone gets handed in this life is the chance to change and Liana will have to face the reality of what is going on with her deepest feelings if she is going to move on and have a chance to be her best self. Turns out this book is about exactly what I want to read about. Kids being real, imperfect people dealing with those painful, unfair challenges life hands us and doing it with courage and a willingness to risk. But, that opening sentence I could still do without. 247 pages Ages 14 and up
The Half-Life of Planets
Hyperion, June 2010
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