When Michelle Zink came to our library’s Teen Read Week Lock-In, she mentioned this as a book that should have gotten a lot more attention when it was published. While I sometimes [respectfully] disagree with people’s opinions of books, I wholeheartedly agree with her here. And while I don’t think I can really do this story justice with a spoiler-proof review, I’m sure as heck gonna try!
Colt Morrissey is a 16-year-old, working-class guy who lives in “the flats.” Julia Vernon is a rich girl from Black Mountain. No one would ever expect them to get together — and no one knew they did. For an entire year, they hooked up in secret. Julia kept saying that she was going to dump her boyfriend, but Colt never expected her to. What they had wasn’t really dating; it was a “no strings attached” affair in which most guys would have been more than happy to take part. Colt even thought that he was happy with their arrangement… Until the night Julia died in a car crash.
Colt is forced to grieve privately, since no one would understand if he seemed outwardly upset. But then, someone comes to Colt and admits to knowing about his affair with Julia. Julia’s brother, Michael, found a notebook full of letters from Julia to “CM” when he cleaned out her room. Colt never knew the notebook existed, but he is curious to know what it says about him and the time he and Julia shared. Despite the fact that the story alternates between the secret year and current events in Colt’s life, it is easy to follow. This book is a must read for fans of The Outsiders and people who prefer their love stories with a touch of the forbidden.