Luisa “Lulu” Mendez has just graduated high school and plans on going off to university, never looking back at the school town she grew up in. Then her father loses her tuition money and it looks like she’ll be stuck. Lulu refuses to give up on her dream and, along with her friends Bucky and Roni, comes up with the idea to make and sell moonshine. It won’t be easy so they enlist the help of Mason, a local boy who’s family is in the moonshine business. It looks like the plan is going to work but can they get the money they need before they get caught?
This book ended up being a fast and fun read. It took a few chapters to get used to the writing style, a futuristic Lulu writing a letter to Mason to explain her thoughts on all that had happened and her feelings. It gave the book a mysterious feel as to why she was writing the letter. Was she apologizing? Was she saying goodbye? Was he actually reading it? Was she planning on mailing it? So many questions.
Lulu was a character who was very book smart but naive about life and could be pretty judgmental of her town and the people who chose to stay. She had a lot to learn. The writing style made Lulu’s growth feel very unique, as it was an older, more mature Lulu looking back and writing about that summer. I also thought her downward spiral was believable. Even though Lulu was the main character, I would say the character who showed the most growth in the book was Roni. Originally believing that she would settle down with Bucky, start a family, be the type of girl Lulu looked down on, she was content with her future. But then her dreams changed and she showed vulnerability and longing and a willingness to fight for what she wanted. And it was great that she managed to do that without turning into someone who began looking down at the people who stayed in their hometown. I do wish there had been more done with Bucky. He was pretty much Roni’s boyfriend who was throwing his life away by wanting a future with her, in Lulu’s eyes at least. Mason, Lulu’s eventual love interest, was a bit of a mystery. He wasn’t too willing to talk about himself or his family. He was trying to put his life together and Lulu kept pushing him closer to the edge. I liked that the writing style made it feel like older Lulu had realized this fact and seemed apologetic as she recounted the story.
It was really two separate stories woven together. One was about teenagers growing up, learning about life, friendships possibly drifting apart, getting ready to start the next part of their lives. That part I really liked. The second was the whole moonshine business and I found that one less believable. Even with someone on their side who knew the business, it didn’t seem likely to Mason would be able to teach them how to make moonshine and set up contacts so easily. It seemed a little too easy for them until danger started setting in closer to the end.
Overall, I enjoyed this story more for the characters and the unique writing style than I did for the main plot of the moonshine business. It was fast paced, especially the end, and I found I couldn’t put it down because I just had know why why Lulu was writing to Mason.