All Eyes on Us

S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Jun. 2019. 384p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534404403.
Gr 9 Up–Seventeen-year-old Amanda Kelly has her whole life planned out. She’ll marry her high school sweetheart and town golden boy, Carter Shaw, and all her family’s financial troubles will be a thing of the past—even though she knows Carter is cheating on her with Rosalie Bell. For Rosalie, Carter is just a shield to hide her lesbian relationship from her fundamentalist Christian parents, who have tried to “convert” her. All she has to do is keep up the act until she graduates and can get out from under her parents’ roof, but the waiting and lying are eating at her soul. Both girls’ lives are jeopardized when they start getting texts and demands from an anonymous caller trying to destroy Carter. The two must work together to discover the identity of the mysterious Private Number before something terrible happens. This book touches on several issues, from social climbing to the practice of conversion “therapy.” But at its heart, it’s a book about finding the strength to stand on one’s own without surrendering to others’ expectations. The main characters are well defined, and Amanda in particular grows from being initially superficial into a young woman who understands her own self-worth. Ancillary characters blend together and serve little purpose other than widening the suspect pool, but that is a relatively minor issue when so much of the plot revolves around Amanda and Rosalie. This is a solid conversation starter, and an author’s note includes information about conversion tactics and resources for survivors.
VERDICT A good story and message that could serve teens who need help finding their place

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