Published by Sourcebooks Fire on March 5, 2019
Senior Ariel Stone is the perfect college applicant: first chair violin, dedicated community volunteer, and expected valedictorian. He works hard - really hard - to make his life look effortless. A failed Calculus quiz is not part of that plan. Not when he’s number one. Not when his peers can smell weakness like a freshman’s body spray.
Figuring a few all-nighters will preserve his class rank, Ariel throws himself into studying. His friends will understand if he skips a few plans, and he can sleep when he graduates. Except Ariel’s grade continues to slide. Reluctantly, he gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in Calculus, and Ariel is out of options.
Ariel may not like Calc, but he might like Amir. Except adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push him past his limit.
High school no matter what generation you ascribe to is a pressure cooker. The expectations of our parents, our friends and our teachers is a lot to contend with at times especially if like Ariel you are a high achieving student.
His dream is to gain admittance to Harvard and he has spent much of his high school career working toward that. most if not all of his courses are AP and with such a high GPA he is gunning for valedictorian. He is no stranger to all-nighters and working super hard to reach his goals so when he starts struggling in calculus he finds himself in unfamiliar territory. This is where we meet Amir who along with being a fellow high achiever is an excellent photographer who challenges Amir and also confuses him.
I myself was not a AP level student so my pressure to achieve when I was in high school was not this high. I can relate however in the struggle and the realization that with time eventually the world after high school is more then tests and college and achievements.
I think that Laura did an excellent job showcasing that pressure in a character like Ariel. I warmed up to him pretty quickly and was rooting for him throughout his struggles hoping he would find true happiness whether it was getting into Harvard or maybe dating Amir. I am not going to tell you if those things happened though because then what would be the point of reading it yourself? I do suggest you pick up this book because I know you will enjoy it just as much as I did and be rooting for Ariel too.