It all starts with a simple flu vaccine. One by one, the students in homeroom 10-B discover they have telepathic abilities as their minds become filled with voices of other students, teachers and even their parents.
At first, the students revel in the secrets they learn about one another: who cheated on whom, the identity of a secret crush, the test answers recorded by the smartest kid in class. But they also learn things they didn’t want to know. For one boy, it’s that Dad is having an affair and Mom has a divorce lawyer on retainer. For one girl, it’s that her parents are very much in love and, er, having sex. Would you want to know every time your girlfriend thinks about another guy? Would you want to know your crush is secretly crazy about someone else?
Should others be judged by what they say or what they think? Mlynowski explores this idea with humor and heaviness. As the group of teens struggle to navigate with their newfound ability, they must decide for themselves how to exist in a world in which people often think things far different than they say, and in which their deepest secrets become known to twenty other students. While some characters are a bit shallow and plastic, others really shine as moving, empathetic creations. The lesson that appearances often deceive is well-integrated into the story, and the author delves into possibilities both positive and negative. Ultimately, the kids must decide individually if this ability is a blessing or curse.
Several discussions about a boy who often “accidentally” has inappropriate physical contact with girls’ boobs. One girl makes plans to have her boyfriend over to her empty home during school lunch break. She also thinks back on summer escapades with a boy. Few details are given, but the reader is told they “didn’t have sex, but they did everything else.”
At a birthday party, one boy punches another in the face.
Brief references to teenaged drinking, smoking pot and taking Adderall without a prescription.