Every day in Coalton is pretty much the same. Mike pumps iron in the morning, drives her truck to school, plays softball in the afternoon, and fixes the neighbors' plumbing at night. But when an exotic new girl, Xanadu, arrives in the small Kansas town, Mike's world is turned upside down. Xanadu is everything Mike is not--cool, complicated, sexy, and...straight. This heartbreaking yet ultimately hopeful novel will speak to anyone who has ever fallen in love with someone just out of reach.
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Julie Anne Peters is the critically acclaimed author of Keeping You a Secret, Between Mom and Jo, Define "Normal," and Luna, a National Book Award Finalist.From School Library Journal:
Grade 10 Up–Mike Szabo must deal with more than her share of problems in this engaging, angsty novel. Her alcoholic father committed suicide, her obese mother has given up on life, and her no-good brother has driven the family plumbing business into the ground. To make matters worse, Mike falls deeply in love with a new girl in their small Kansas town. Bad-girl Xanadu has been sent to live with her aunt and uncle after getting into serious trouble dealing drugs. She befriends Mike instantly, though she's undeniably straight, and Mike suffers when Xanadu starts dating. Mike copes by working out at the gym, fixing her neighbors' plumbing, leading her softball team to a winning season, and occasionally binge drinking with her friends. Throughout the novel, she struggles to come to terms with her sexuality–while she is attracted to girls, she doesn't want to label herself, and objects when her gay best friend, Jamie, tries to do so. The people of Coalton are accepting of Mike and Jamie, but eventually Mike realizes that she will need to leave her small town in search of a first relationship, and that her athletic talent might give her a way out. Despite the multitude of difficulties the protagonist faces, the story never slips into melodrama, and all of the issues are handled with sensitivity and compassion. Xanadu sometimes threatens to become a stereotype as the exotic, sophisticated outsider who is also manipulative and selfish. Overall, though, readers will root for Mike in this heartfelt coming-of-age story.–Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library
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