Val is one of those students at high school who just blends in. She doesn’t have any particular friends, she skates by with a B+ average though she could do better; her physics teacher can’t even remember her name.
Then Francie joins her class and everything changes. Francie is flamboyant, defiant, she smokes, she’s always late to class, her clothing pushes the dress code: she’s nowhere in Val’s league. But for some reason, she latches onto Val, who is astonished and grateful, and willingly learns to smoke, cut class, and learn the skills of shoplifting from Francie.
Val is even a little bit in love with Francie, although “not in a lesbo way.” Homophobia rears its ugly head in this book, with Val, and her brother’s ex-girlfriend referring to him as a fag, and their mother unable to fully accept him. Fourteen year old Francie sets out to “cure” him by dressing particularly provocatively, and then can’t handle it when she gets attention from a group of construction workers.
Fissures start to edge into the friendship, and it all comes crumbling down one day at the mall as Val and Francie realize that their vows to be there for each other can’t address the real issues each of them is facing. An interesting psychological story of a friendship built on the shaky structure of two girls each needing something that the other ultimately can’t give.
This would be a much better book without the homophobia–or if it was something that the characters worked through.