Bennett Madison, August 2009. This is one of those stories of a mousy teen who gets a new bad-girl best friend and starts shoplifting and dressing like a ho, but it doesn’t feature the clichéd ending of so many of those stories; Val doesn’t come to the sudden realization that she can Just Be Herself and dump Francie for a more suitable companion. Instead, she goes on one final shoplifting spree and connives to leave Francie with all the blame in a weird, magical ending that leaves the reader wondering whether Francie was only a figment of Val’s imagination all along.
Val’s brother, probably in his twenties, is gay and allegedly dying. It’s never specified what exactly he’s got, or whether he’s got anything at all. His best friend Liz says at one point that he’s “dying of boredom.” Jesse is portrayed as a fairly cool older brother, but the kind who serves morning cocktails to his teenage sister because he’s given up on life. He’s not a great role model, but he is a realistic character, one of whose attributes is gayness. It seems incidental to the character.
There are also a couple of lesbo hints between Val and Francie; they make out at one point, and their desperate need for one another is intense enough to suggest they’re soulmates, especially when compared to their lukewarm feelings toward Francie’s boyfriend Max. Of course, if Francie isn’t real, this theory isn’t either.