JL lives at home with her parents, only her father has been mia for a while working in California. The fact that his job keeps extending his stay out there is taking its toll on her mother, who is drinking a lot. In addition to her drinking, she’s writing letters to Kerouac when she’s lucid enough to do so. JL’s grandmother had a very brief encounter with the author when he was alive and so JL’s mother has a bit of an obsession with him. That obsession is resulting in multiple letters being sent to him a week.
It’s all too much for JL and so she escapes into a world with her friends and her boyfriend Max. Though her friendship with Aubrey has gone south too as she doesn’t much care for him, the age gap, or his drinking and smoking pot. He’s a bit of a bad boy, a 19-year-old bad boy to JL’s 15. And because she doesn’t have Aubrey to lean on, JL unhealthily latches onto Max as she has no one to hang out with.
There aren’t a ton of reviews out as I’m writing my own but I’m a bit surprised that no one else is writing about the age gap. Max calls her jailbait which is disrespectful, and he gets her to smoke pot. Despite him saying he’s willing to wait for her to be ready to have sex, he isn’t really willing as he brings it up *a lot*. A girl at 15 is going through vastly different things than a guy at 19, and it’s a shame that there is no one in JL’s life outside of Aubrey who is expressing concern about her relationship. (and I get people will defend this and say they’re just two kids, age doesn’t matter, etc), but not only can I not get on board with it, I feel sad that JL didn’t have more support (especially seeing her mother liked Max without really knowing him).
Aside from the age problem, I think this was very well-written. JL has a lot of great insight regarding her life. Polisner touched on a lot of topics including teen dating, sex, mental illness, being quasi-raised by a single parent, and alcohol. I thought the way she posed the book as JL writing a journal length letter to Aubrey about everything that has happened since the two stopped being friends was a unique way to write the book.