Middle of nowhere.
What's the new girl to do?
For Piper Marks, the answer is simple. She's determined to have her photography rock the cover of National Geographic someday, and moving to Clarkton, Iowa for her last year of high school is not going to stop her. Even if her usual subjects have changed from bright lights and skyscrapers to fields, cows…and more fields.
But when photographer at the local paper quits in a huff, she steps into his spot. Her new job keeps Piper busy capturing tackles, and zooming in on first downs and end zone dances, not to mention putting her directly in the path of varsity football star Les Williams IV. Her new friends warn her off, but she can't resist the pull she feels toward this mysterious country boy. But this small town is keeping a secret, and it's one that could destroy any chance they have to be together.
It's up to Piper to decide what to do with the distorted truth. Can she risk exposing her heart? It might be worth it, 'cause Les is about to change her world from black and white to fully saturated color.
I thought this teen novel did a fabulous job of shying away from some major cliches that plenty of young adult novels fall victim to. There was some teenage angst for sure, but the obstacles that prevent Piper and Les from being together right away are obstacles I've never encountered before and are central to the external and internal conflict of the story.
Piper's never had great friends, and the ones she leaves behind are no exception. It is difficult for her to meet the needs of the friendships she builds in her new hometown, but I liked the fact that she was willing to see the difference between the old friendships and the new ones, recognizing that it was necessary to put forth more effort and become less self-absorbed. She doesn't necessarily follow through with what she has learned, at least not in great detail so there is definitely room for improvement in that area.
She doesn't take crap from anyone, including a competitive school photographer who isn't happy about Piper's talent for capturing stunning moments on film. This was an aspect of Piper's character that I found so appealing. Feisty and determined. She always remains true to her artistic nature, and it is clear that the author has a firm grasp of the nuances of photography which was something I enjoyed. I loved visualizing the scenes she created through a photographer's point of view.
Les is extremely lovable. He's the one cliche that I found in this novel, and the only one that I can tolerate because I just love a brooding, moody, mysterious guy. Fortunately, the author gives Piper and Les enough room to grow in their affections for one another instead of forcing the reader to choke down this ridiculous notion of love at first sight among high schoolers. There is more to Les than meets the eye, and don't we just love that? Nothing worse than a guy who is mysterious...and remains mysterious. Not much to work with there. There's some delicious development in this particular area, as there should be with any good romance, but you have to remain true to the age bracket and circumstance, and the author's plotting, dialogue, orchestration and mood setting really nailed it.
Sometimes you have to punish your protagonist to develop more depth and dimension to their character. Piper's journey is a prime example of this. That frustrating sense of desperately needing to understand what was going on with Les was wonderful too because it left the reader and the main character tortured and a bit beaten down before that final rallying moment when things finally came together the way they were meant to.
I almost sense a sequel coming from this. There's the issue with Les's sister and a certain high school janitor, and I honestly wanted to see the school's reaction to Les and Piper near the end. I also think that Les's ex-girlfriend could cause some major problems since there were hints that she was a bit emotionally imbalanced. I certainly see another plot in the making, and I wouldn't mind reading more about Piper and Les's journey together.
I highly recommend this novel to fans of young adult romance. Whether you're seventeen or seventy, this romance is sure to pluck at those heart strings.
I gave it five cherry blossoms!
L.S. Murphy lives in the Greater St. Louis area where she watches Cardinals baseball, reads every book she can find, and weaves tales for teens and adults. When not doing all of the above, she tends to The Bean (aka her daughter), her husband and a menagerie of pets.
She is a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and the St. Louis Writer’s Guild.