For sixteen-year-old Ben Bancroft – a kid with cerebral palsy, no parents, and an overprotective grandmother – the closest thing to happiness is hunkering alone in the back of the Rialto Theatre and watching Bride of Frankenstein for the umpteenth time. The last person he wants to run into is drugged-up Colleen Minou, resplendent in ripped tights, neon miniskirt, and an impressive array of tattoos. But when Colleen climbs into the seat beside him and rests a woozy head on his shoulder, Ben has that unmistakable feeling that his life is about to change. With unsparing humor and a keen flair for dialogue, Ron Koertge captures the rare repartee between two lonely teenagers on opposite sides of the social divide. His smart, self-deprecating protagonist learns that kindred spirits may be found for the looking – and that the resolve to follow your passion can be strengthened by something as simple as a human touch.
Colleen Minou is a hard-core stoner, a girl whose motto is, "I'll get high and do anything." Ben Bancroft is a movie-addicted preppie who suffers from cerebral palsy, "the resident spaz, invisible as the sign that says NO RUNNING, the one no one pays attention to." Together, they form the most unlikely couple since Dharma and Greg. He's Brooks Brothers, she's Salvation Army. He's never even smoked a cigarette, she's got 20 different chemicals running through her veins. But when these two lonely teens meet one night at Ben's favorite hang, the Rialto (a classic film theatre that "smells like butter from the Paleozoic"), sparks fly. At least for Ben they do. Maybe it's because Colleen's the first girl to ever really notice him, to have the nerve to tease him about his disability instead of pretend it's not there. For once, Ben is actually more interested in his real life than a movie. Colleen takes him clubbing, lights his first joint, even challenges him to direct his own movie. But when Ben, in turn, dares her to stay straight, Colleen admits that, despite his devotion, she still needs the drugs to "smooth out the edges." Is Ben capable of convincing her otherwise? If not, how will he ever be cured of his Colleen addiction?
Author of the acclaimed Brimstone Journals, Ron Koertge's wry depiction of this car wreck of a relationship is sharply observed and wholly original. Teen readers will have a tough time turning the last page of this oddly endearing, screwball love story. (Ages 13 and older) --Jennifer Hubert