At 17, Will Caynes is a watcher of his own life, a kid who blends in with his surroundings.
His parents are divorced; his dad is beginning to come apart. His mom has remarried and lives with a new family in the posh fictional Minneapolis suburb of Oak Prairie.
Over the course of the book's momentous year, Will is helping his father rebuild their original house in Minneapolis, and working for his father's friend Garrett in his diner. All these years he's had nothing, really, to call his own.
And suddenly there is too much that's his; gifts that come with deep responsibilities, but gifts that he's hungry for.
Will's entry into work is one gift. Another is love (and sex) with Brandy, a girl from his school, and with Angus, his best friend from his mother's suburb. Will keeps these relationships as separate as he can.
All of this is very explicitly drawn, credibly so, neither overwrought nor cynical nor euphemistic. A stated purpose of the book is to explore bisexuality, and that's done well. But the real purpose of the book, it seems, is to look at relationships in general. What is it to love a parent who could pull you down? What is it to create your own life? What does work do to create a self? And also, of course, what's love got to do with it? Where does a self end and an other start?
Twin Cities writer Carrie Mesrobian has written two fine YA books dealing with adolescent love and sex — "Sex and Violence" and "Perfectly Good White Boy." This outing is in some ways richer than both.
Ann Klefstad is an artist and writer in Duluth.