Crush by Carrie Mac
Hope’s achieved what many teenage girls would only dream about–her parents are taking off for the summer and sending her to stay with her older sister in New York. But it’s not all quite as easy as it sounds–her older sister Joy is a self-absorbed cokehead, home is the Larchwood commune, her hippie parents are off volunteering, building schools in Thailand. And after that incident with the pot and sex with the married guy in the hay loft, there’s no way they’re going to leave Hope alone over the summer.
Things are less than stellar with Hope’s sister–there are the late-night screaming fights between Joy and her boyfriend, the perpetually-empty fridge, and oh yeah, she’s sleeping on the couch. Hope jumps at a chance to take a babysitting gig for the lady with the twins she sat next to on the plane, discovers that the twins have two mommies (not a huge deal), and is offered a nice, sane place to stay. And this is how she is befriended by the cute, dykey mechanic girl who, you guessed it, become her crush.
Crush is part of Orca Book’s high-low Orca Soundings series, meaning that it’s intended to be high-interest and low reading level. (Also, very short.) A lot of high-low books hit the low-vocab part, but no matter how edgy the subject matter, miss the high-interest. Carrie Mac nicely side-steps that pitfall, partly because the book takes place in a relatively short time frame (about a week), and partly because the book sticks to being about one thing. Sure, Hope has hippie parents and loves animals and her sister’s a mess, but all those details are just part of the background. It’s a story about a summer romance–more specifically, about a kiss that’s the beginning of something–not about non-traditional families, drug abuse, or homophobia.
Also, it’s really nice to see a gay teen romance that’s not a coming out drama. It’s a major worry for most gay teens, but it’s refreshing to see a book that plausibly circumvents that (Hope’s parents are quite thrilled for her) and is just about the falling in love part. All in all, it was an engaging, fast read that far exceeded my expectations. Girl-kissing, yay!