Sophie, a dancer and aspiring choreographer, and Peter, a pianist, have been best friends and musical collaborators since childhood. As long as they’ve known each other, Peter has been ill with kidney disease and on the list to receive a kidney transplant. Now teens, Sophie, who would do anything for Peter, jumps at the chance to donate her kidney when she discovers that she’s a match. After the surgery, Sophie’s love for Peter grows. Though he loves Sophie, and is grateful she gave him the chance to have a “normal” life, Peter struggles to feel that owes her anything, especially after he returns to school and his life expands beyond his formerly insular existence, when Sophie was his only friend. Soon, Peter develops a relationship with a boy named Chase and even joins his band. Hurt and feeling abandoned, Sophie immerses herself in dance team; she is also dealing with some tensions at home with her teen-mom sister and young niece. Although Sophie hopes her love for Peter will eventually be reciprocated, she begins to wonder if their previously tight-knit bond is becoming too damaged to be repaired.
Like Solomon’s debut novel, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, this book is set in Seattle and features first-person dual points of view. The chapters alternate between Sophie and Peter offering readers broad insights into both their individual experiences and the multifaceted dynamics between them. The teens’ Jewish identities are essential to their self-perceptions and development. Sophie is proudly Jewish, and Peter, who is half-Jewish, feels drawn to Judaism and makes a point of learning more about the religion.
With flawed yet relatable protagonists who are on a realistic, sometimes painful journey, Our Year of Maybe deftly captures the complexity of the bonds of teen love and friendship.
Recommended for ages 14 and up.