|When we were infinite
Author: Gilbert, Kelly Loy
All Beth wants is for her tight-knit circle of friends--Grace Nakamura, Brandon Lin, Sunny Chen, and Jason Tsou--to stay together. With her family splintered and her future a question mark, these friends are all she has--even if she sometimes wonders if she truly fits in with them. Besides, she's certain she'll never be able to tell Jason how she really feels about him. When Beth witnesses a private act of violence in Jason's home, the whole group is shaken and makes a pact to protect him.
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 02/15/2021 *Starred Review* In her senior year of high school, Beth can count on two things: her close-knit friend group and her love of the violin. Both are threatened when she witnesses friend and bandmate Jason being physically assaulted by his own father. The friends rally to aid one of their own, but none of them truly understands how to save Jason from his family’s legacy of violence. As Jason spirals downward, he makes a fateful decision to end his suffering permanently. He survives, but his despair and anger spread outward like a contagion, endangering the friends’ futures. Gilbert is exceptional at presenting the nuanced and complex lives of American teenagers, especially Asian American teens. As in 2018’s Picture Us in the Light, Gilbert draws readers into the characters slowly, showcasing the dynamics they share with each other and their families. Family is at the center of the novel, with the book’s conceit being the intergenerational transmission of immigrant parents’ hopes—realized and not—onto their children. This is done with an astonishing level of empathy, even as the subject matter delves into violence, suicide, and racism. Gilbert is a master writer in the YA arena, and this book adds to her impressive oeuvre. - Copyright 2021 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 10/01/2021 Gr 9 Up—High school senior Beth's group of friends is the most important part of her life. Sunny, Grace, Brandon, Jason, and Beth are all part of the Bay Area Youth Symphony and spend almost all their time together, communicating via text messages when they are apart. When Beth and Brandon witness an act of domestic violence in Jason's house, the four friends make a pact to attend the college he wants to go to so they can continue to be there for him. Beth's father left when she little, and because of that she feels like she must always be whatever other people need her to be, so they won't leave her. Thus, when her friend group starts to grow apart, she feels it the most deeply and tries the hardest to fight the changes. Many high school students will relate to the important role of friendship in Beth's life. The story is written from Beth's perspective as she looks back on the events of senior year, and sometimes the shift from the present moment high school narration to Beth's reflection is disconcerting. Suicide, abuse, racism, mental health, and microaggressions are frankly and thoughtfully discussed. The back matter includes a resource section for readers who might be struggling with mental health issues. Beth's friends are Chinese, and she is biracial (white and Chinese). VERDICT This quiet, introspective book deftly captures the range of emotions and challenges that come with growing up coming into your own.—Florence Simmons, School Library Journal - Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.