When We Were Infinite by Kelly Loy Gilbert
A closely knit quintet of Asian American teens have remained together throughout their high school years. Stellar students and high achievers, each hopes to attend a prestigious university. All apply to several schools throughout the U.S. Beth Claire harbors the dream that all five will remain together, attending the University of California at Berkeley.
Musically inclined, they are members of the local youth orchestra. Beth is second chair violin to the technically precise Jason Tsou, first chair.
Beth lives with her Asian mother and has limited contact with her white father who remains aloof. Her maternal grandparents live nearby but she rarely sees them.
Her four friends are her anchor, her source of security and validation. Senior year exposes underlying stresses and fissures in their bond. They witness a father’s brutal physical abuse of his son. One tries to bring her romantic interest into the friendship circle. Another attempts suicide. When college acceptance notifications begin arriving, it is evident that the five will soon be geographically separated. Things are not the same. They will never be the same.
Love the gorgeous book jacket. Note the sumptuous colors that wash over Beth as she turns away to face a future different from what she expected. An apt metaphor.
I wept as I read the final pages. When We Were Infinite is exquisitely written, simply elegant, yet intriguingly complex.