Alexandra Diaz, 2009. Diaz’s first novel is told in three voices, with best friends Tara, Whitney Blaire, and Pinkie alternating chapters from their POVs. Tara is a runner prepping for a marathon and sick of her boyfriend Brent. Pinkie is the mother hen of the group, but ironically she’s also the most immature, crushing on a teacher and calling him obsessively. Whitney Blaire plays dual stock characters: the spoiled rich girl and the dumb blonde.
The story opens with rumors that Brent is sleeping with a slutty boy cheerleader, leading Tara to dump him and wonder about her feelings for new girl Riley, a femme gymnast with whom she has infinitely more in common than with her old BFFs Pinkie and Whitney Blaire. It takes Tara most of the book to figure out what she really wants from Riley, although the reader knows long before then. Tara also has to come to terms with her father’s abandonment of the family and subsequent remarriage. She’s got a lot to deal with, and only Riley understands. They don’t get it on until page 192, by which time Tara and Whitney Blaire hate each other over a misunderstanding, and Pinkie tries to play therapist but is squicked out by her newly lesbian friend. They all make up in the end.
Pinkie is an intriguing and layered secondary character, as is Tara’s mom, but Whitney Blaire falls flat. Maybe an entire book devoted to her would help us get into her head better, but as it is, she’s just a stereotype. Riley definitely isn’t – as Pinkie says, “Riley, she can’t be….I mean, she’s so pretty,” with her waistlength hair and her choice of sport. Tara’s slow realization about her attraction to Riley is realistic, and she doesn’t turn it into an identity; instead, she believes her mom when she says, “‘So maybe you’re someone who falls in love with a person, not a gender.'” Indeed. Fluid sexuality in YA – I love it.