When we were infinite

Kelly Loy Gilbert

Book - 2020

Knowing that the friendships she depends on will change when her parents split up, Beth witnesses a private act of violence in her crush's home before forging a pact with her friends to offer support in the face of a life-altering decision.

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Subjects
Genres
Romance fiction
Social problem fiction
Domestic fiction
Novels
Published
New York : Simon & Schuster/BFYR [2020]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
362 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9781534468214
1534468218
Main Author
Kelly Loy Gilbert (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*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. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

High school senior Beth Claire, a violinist, is desperate for her friend group and fellow orchestra members—Brandon, Grace, Jason, and Sunny—to stay together through college. Given her white father's departure, and her distant relationship with her Chinese American mother, friends are everything to Beth, bringing vibrancy to her otherwise "not as dazzling" existence in Congress Springs, Calif. When Beth and Brandon inadvertently see Jason's father assail him, Beth finds herself willing to do anything to keep their friendship intact and help the group regain a sense of normalcy. But she also finds herself reevaluating her habit of people pleasing, for the first time cultivating authenticity over likability. Gilbert (Picture Us in the Light) capably portrays facets of the Asian American friend group's various experiences, including living up to educational demands and personal sacrifices made by previous generations. Though Beth's selflessness at her own expense can initially feel frustrating, her gradually increasing confidence is heartening, and prevailing themes of true friendship offer readers a promising message of hope. Ages 12–up. Agent: Adriann Ranta Zurhellen, Foundry Literary + Media. (Mar.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

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 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Knowing that the friendships she depends on will change when her parents split up, Beth witnesses a private act of violence in her crush’s home before forging a pact with her friends to offer support in the face of a life-altering decision. 50,000 first printing. Simultaneous eBook.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Knowing that the friendships she depends on will change when her parents split up, Beth witnesses a private act of violence in her crush's home before forging a pact with her friends to offer support in the face of a life-altering decision.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

From award-winning author Kelly Loy Gilbert comes a powerful, achingly romantic drama about the secrets we keep, from each other and from ourselves, perfect for fans of Permanent Record and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter.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, so friendship will have to be enough.Then Beth witnesses a private act of violence in Jason's home, and the whole group is shaken. Beth and her friends make a pact to do whatever it takes to protect Jason, no matter the sacrifice. But when even their fierce loyalty isn't enough to stop Jason from making a life-altering choice, Beth must decide how far she's willing to go for him'and how much of herself she's willing to give up.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

From award-winning author Kelly Loy Gilbert comes a “beautifully, achingly cathartic” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) romantic drama about the secrets we keep, from each other and from ourselves, perfect for fans of Permanent Record and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter.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, so friendship will have to be enough.Then Beth witnesses a private act of violence in Jason’s home, and the whole group is shaken. Beth and her friends make a pact to do whatever it takes to protect Jason, no matter the sacrifice. But when even their fierce loyalty isn’t enough to stop Jason from making a life-altering choice, Beth must decide how far she’s willing to go for him—and how much of herself she’s willing to give up.