Sunday, March 29, 2009

Going Too Far

Jennifer Echols is from more or less the same corner of Alabama as I grew up in, and she writes YA novels set there, so reading her books is always a bit of a trip in the wayback machine. This one is set in my very own home county, maybe about fifteen miles from my hometown. (It would've actually passed for my hometown, only we're near US 280, not the interstate.)

The heroine of Going Too Far (2009) is Meg, a wild child 17-year-old who in the opening scene is stoned, drunk, and planning to have sex with her sorta-boyfriend on a railroad bridge when they're caught by the cops--one of whom she eventually discovers is John, a 19-year-old who graduated her high school the year before, and despite good grades and test scores decided to stay home and go to police academy rather than heading for college. Meg's punishment for the bridge escapade is to forfeit her spring break Florida trip and ride along with John for a week to see what her behavior looks like from the other side. While the set-up is a bit implausible, the characters were so real and fascinating that I didn't really care. We gradually discover just what demons from her past are driving Meg, along with the ghosts that haunt John (though I guessed his before I figured out the exact details of hers), and I was rooting for both of them to let go of their self-destructive behavior (hers obvious, his subtle) and embrace the future.

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