“Just a small town girl livin’ in a lonely world…”
Those immortal words from one of the world’s greatest songs make a great introduction to Brian Malloy’s Twelve Long Months. (And if you don’t agree with me that Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ is a great song, you’re in denial. You know you sing along whenever you hear it.) Molly Swain is your basic smart-girl outcast. She lives in a small Minnesota town, is in love with her lab partner, Mark, has no friends, and dreams of being a physicist. After graduating from high school, Molly moves to New York where she attends Columbia University. Mark is moving to New Jersey, so Molly thinks she finally has her chance to get him to really notice her. Well, fate is not without it’s own sense of irony.
Soon after Molly and Mark meet up in New York, Mark reveals that he is gay. Molly, understandably, is crushed, but she puts on a brave face for Mark and helps him to accept who he really is. She also enters into her first serious relationship with fellow physics major Simon. Molly feels like she’s finally getting the life she’s always wanted: She has two awesome friends, a great boyfriend, she’s living in one of the most exciting cities on the planet, and she remains friends with Mark.
Well, this wouldn’t be a young adult novel without emotional turmoil, and Molly gets a lot more of it in spades near the end of this novel. I won’t tell you what happens, but you’ll see it coming a mile away, but you’ll wish you didn’t. I found myself praying, “Please don’t let it happen, please don’t let it happen.” It happened, and I felt as lousy as Molly did. (Well, probably not, but I did empathize with her.) Even though I predicted what would happen, I found this book to be an engrossing read that I did not want to put down.
Although Twelve Long Months will be a hard sell for most guys, many female readers will enjoy it. They’ll see that the book is about love at its core…maybe not the love envisioned at the beginning but something that grows into an unbreakable friendship at the end.