As the story opens, Sage Priestly, 17, is running for class president against Mona, whose popularity Sage finds both threatening, fascinating, and a matter that keeps her in a state of uncomfortable envy. In her efforts to "be Mona," Sage undertakes a drastic diet, changes her haircolor, and focuses all her leisure dream time on Roger--a boy she can't see is incipiently abusive, though her long-time friend, Vern, loves her in a healthy and faithful way--a love that is tested when Sage starts dating Roger and suffering actual physical abuse.  As we learn about her troubled social life, we also learn that at home Sage is a caregiver for her single mother whose bipolar disorder  and depression pose a huge and confusing challenge to the teenage daughter.  Vern's parents eventually intervene to help both Sage and her mother get appropriate care and oversight, and Sage begins to recognize in Vern (and his gay friend Walter, who has suffered his own social challenges) the kind of friend that will last.  The book includes an afterword in which the author provides a note from personal experience on bipolar disorder (one of her parents was bipolar) and abuse, and lists helpful resources. 


Though the story is somewhat predictable in its retracing of plot lines common to teen fiction--popularity envy, insecurity, uncertain sense of identity, alienation from parents--its treatment of Sage's very real and difficult decisions and of her point of view as well as others' makes it a novel worth recommending to young people thrust into the role of caregiver or those suffering from any of the various forms of abuse that can occur at the hands of boyfriends who find their own security in domination.  The chapters alternate among various characters' points of view, giving it texture and ambiguity it might not otherwise have.  Some characters are more fully realized than others; Mona serves mainly as a foil.  But the story offers adequate satisfactions and could be a very helpful resource for kids involved in the particular heartaches it depicts.



Margaret K. McElderry Books

Place Published

New York



Page Count