The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian is a teen romance with a twist. Their school is being dismantled during the last months before summer vacation and the entire town is steadily evacuating in anticipation of the purposeful flooding and destruction of Aberdeen to make way for new construction (all for the “good” of the folk).
Keelie has her best friend, Morgan, and her best friend’s other best friend, Elise, and then, at the Spring Formal, she actually attracts the attention of childhood crush Jesse. Keelie uses humor to deflect her true feelings, making others laugh at her often inappropriate actions to boost her own ego. Jesse, the cute boy who everyone adores, also has a warped sense of the bizarre, so they are able to feed off one another and develop some sort of relationship with a few kisses here and there and a lot of pranks. Of course, their entire life is basically ending, in essence the cessation of their known universe, so abnormality seems to rule the day. If your parent(s) were packing and your home was about to expire – dancing in formal attire outdoors in a downpour, belly flopping down a slip and slide, wearing a snorkel and flippers to graduation, or attending secret prom – all seem like perfectly normal ways to pass the time.
Of course, not everything is fun and games. Keelie’s dad accuses the Governor of taking advantage of the excessive rainfall and resulting flooding conditions to annihilate the whole town for his own personal economic plans. Many others side with him, refusing to sign the buyout deals. Everything gets complicated for adults and children as their world is turned upside down.
Even Keelie’s relationships are affected by all the goings on, and she discovers herself alone, trying to deal with an uncertain future. While on the surface, Keelie gets what she deserves, the girl is not all bad, she just doesn’t always make the right choices and overcompensates to cover her insecurities. In the end she learns her lessons, hopefully not too late to mend all the broken fences.
An interesting concept (even though I just finished Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen which also deals with a small town being flooded against the will of the residents). I enjoyed the emotional rush of young love although I thought the entire plot started to drag about two thirds through the book. I liked both the beginning and the ending and didn’t mind the dysfunctional main characters. Teens are often unpredictable, acting out to gain attention, unintentionally hurting themselves socially and thus emotionally. Adults can behave in ways contrary to their own well being, as well. Yet once the reader gets the point it is time to begin wrapping things up.
Still, well worth reading. Three and a half stars.
A thank you to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This review also appears on Goodreads.