Meeting January made Johnny’s sixth summer in London the one he’d always dreamed of.
This summer would be different, Johnny was sure of it. He was 15, no longer a kid, and while he was still a virgin, he’d gotten some experience in the last year. And he’d been skateboarding for almost a year, and London’s South Bank was the coolest place for boarders. It wasn’t like the skateparks back in Austin—it was darker, edgier, and the guys who went there did tricks Johnny’d seen only in videos.
The first time he was there, he ended up talking to a guy who videotaped the South Bank action to show at a skate store where he worked, a place called Redhead. The second time he went, he saw himself on tape and met January. She was hot—blonde hair, blue eyes, and a great body. And best of all, she was a boarder, and interested in Johnny. He told her he was from Texas, seventeen, and that he and his sister lived with his dad in London during the summer. She told him she was eighteen, had been traveling all over the world, having a gap year between high school and college. And so they began.
And January wasn’t the only thing that made Johnny’s summer different. Talking with January and the people he met in bars and cafes and on the South Bank, Johnny gave away his nationality the minute he opened his mouth, and soon discovered that bashing Americans had become a world-wide sport of sorts. Johnny had to figure out how he felt about that and how he was going to react to all the jeers and slurs. Should he defend himself and his country or just ignore them and let it roll off his back? And finally, what was he going to do about himself and January? As they got closer and closer, the time they had left to spend together got shorter and shorter. What would happen when Johnny had to go back to Austin?
It wasn’t Johnny’s first summer in London, but it was certainly the most exciting, the most difficult, and the one in which he learned the most—about himself, about love, and about life.
This Booktalk was written by librarian and booktalking expert Joni R. Bodart