Gap Life

224p. ebook available. Feiwel & Friends. Nov. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250088956.
Gr 8 Up—Teens who don't know what they want to do with their lives will relate well to the protagonist of this fast-paced realistic novel. Cray Franklin is a 17-year-old high school graduate whose parents have mapped out his life—attend St. Luke's College and become a doctor. Those ambitions do not coincide with Cray's own. He doesn't know what he wants to be or what he wants to do after graduation. Enter Rayne, a wise, worldly fellow high school graduate who helps Cray get a job at a group home for adults with disabilities. Rayne is fascinating, complicated, and involved with a sophisticated Italian boyfriend/fiancé. Cray's bid for a romantic relationship with her introduces palpable angst and creates tension with his best friend, whose girlfriend intensely dislikes Rayne and actively attempts to sabotage the budding romance. Cray's ways of dealing with the conflicts among his parents, sibling, friends, employer, and love interest are painfully authentic. The author tackles a number of problems that might have been resolved more effectively in a longer story. The superficial treatment of the issues moves the plot along quickly, which will appeal to reluctant readers, but still provides opportunities for discussion questions that elicit greater reflection about how Cray's obstacles might mirror students' own challenges.
VERDICT A solid additional purchase for librarians seeking books about teens struggling to grow up in suburbia or to decide which path to take after high school.

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