Stone, Juliana. Boys Like You.

Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2014.

Stone has published a few earlier novels of the adult romance variety but this appears to be her first attempt at a YA story, and it’s not bad. In fact, its frequent emotional intensity will undoubtedly appeal to many younger readers. Monroe Blackwell is a sixteen-year-old New York girl, but she has Louisiana roots on her father’s side, and she’s spending the summer on the plantation her grandmother owns, now converted to a B&B. She was at least partly to blame in the recent death of someone very close to her (we don’t find out who that was for some time) and she’s having a very hard time dealing with the guilt.

Then we meet Nathan Everets, a local boy of the same age, whom we quickly discover was driving the car after a party when they had the wreck that put his best friend, Trevor, in a coma. Nathan and Trevor were up-and-coming musicians, music was their lives, but now he can’t even look at a guitar. And he’s spending the summer helping his contractor uncle do renovation work around the Blackwell plantation.

Naturally, almost from the moment the two teens meet — Monroe has to drive Nathan around because his license was lifted — there’s a connection between them, though it takes them both awhile to figure out what to do about it. But they will eventually open up to each other where they couldn’t do that with any adult, and that will start the healing process they both need so badly. And the sexual tension that develops between them will find its own resolution.

Stone is a pretty decent writer — though I wish she would find an alternate word for the overworked “hot” in describing Monroe and Nathan’s physical reaction to each other. She also appears to be Canadian, and I have to wonder whether she’s ever even been to Louisiana — specifically, somewhere in the River Parishes (where I live), because Monroe and her grandmother drive down to New Orleans on a half-day shopping trip. Because there’s not a single non-white face anywhere in the story, not even in the crowd scenes. (Stone also seems not to have heard of Interstate 10.) In any case, I have a feeling my teenage granddaughter is going to love this one.

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