Rich Boys: An Island Summer Novel
Title: Rich Boys: An Island Summer Novel
Author: Jenny O’Connell
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group/MTV Books
Number of Pages: 288
Advertised Reading Level: Young Adult
Age and Grade of Main Character(s): 17 yrs./post-Junior summer
Language: No profanity
Sex: Kissing but no explicitly described sex. However sex is accepted as part of teen relationships. One character loses her virginity behind closed doors. Another character becomes pregnant.
Drug/Alcohol Use: teenage characters drink beer
Social Issues: abortion, pre-marital sex, divorce, death of a parent, remarriage, birth control
Suggested Movie Grade: PG-13
Premise: The summer before her senior year in high school is a confusing time for Winnie. As a full-time resident of Martha’s Vineyard, she is happy to have a summer job working at a day camp at a prestigious resort and to score a babysitting gig taking care of six year old Cassie, the daughter of pregnant summer resident Ann. Winnie is happy for any activity that keeps her out of the house, where her parents’ marriage is unraveling. Too, since her best friend, Jessie, has reconnected with her summer boyfriend, Nash, Winnie needs something to do to fill the time or else face being the perpetual third wheel.
Winnie meets Jay, Cassie’s 19 year old step brother who has come to stay on the island after a bad year at college. Her first impressions of the guy are not good. Jay seems rude and inconsiderate. However, over the course of the summer, she comes to learn that Jay has recently lost his mother, and he feels tremendous guilt about decisions he made during that difficult experience. His problems during his freshman year and his estrangement from his family were his way of coping with his grief.
The two become friends and then enter into a relationship. As the summer comes to an end, Winnie must face the prospect of letting Jay go even as she has to accept the changes in her own family situation.
Comments: Parents should know that while sex is never explicitly described in this book, Winnie does lose her virginity at the end of the story. The situation is kept behind closed doors and may go over the head of younger readers. Too, Jessie finds herself pregnant and decides to undergo an abortion. This situation is discussed frankly, although there are no explicit descriptions. Winnie and Jessie discuss the use of birth control.
Jay deals with having lost his mother to cancer, and Winnie is trying to come to terms with her parents’ growing estrangement and the separation they agree to at the end of the book.
Several characters drink beer on the beach, but there is no discussion about their under age status or how the beer was acquired.
Age Appropriateness: Ages 14 and up