It is their junior year, and lifelong best friends Cory and Sherri have found a program that allows them both to study abroad in London at Salisbury College. This is more than just an exciting opportunity; it's a way for the two of them to be together again after Cory's family moved away just before Cory and Sherri's sophomore year. The two have missed each other, and their new situation allows them to begin a deeper exploration of their relationship, which is bridging from friendship into the realm of lovers. It will be a year of many firsts for both of them.
Sherri and Cory are both enrolled in a philosophy class that requires them to participate in a month-long project to solve a mystery, much like the mysteries that people pay to solve in now-popular "Escape Room" scenarios set up by companies for fun. The story of the philosophy class's mystery takes some unexpected turns, and Sherri faithfully records them all in her Escape Room journal. The students can only discover the answer if they learn about the philosophies of Aristotle, Sartre, Russell, Lewis, de Beauvoir, Rand, Wittgenstein, Derrida, and Foucault—which Sherri does, carefully considering possible motives for each.
But philosophy is not all that vies for Sherri's attention during her stay in London. Of great significance is her first mutual sexual encounter with Cory, which is also the first actual intercourse that either of them experience. They are excited young lovers who embark on a wonderful journey together—only to discover that it is not always as easy as they had anticipated. Like all lovers, they find that they are not always in harmony with each other, and they struggle through their experiences and their feelings as they fight for the appropriate way to set boundaries that are healthy and that will keep them both happy. It is not easy, and it does not always work.
Sherri is befriended by several girls who are lesbian or queer, and she eagerly explores that side of her sexuality as well, but she also learns that she must walk a fine line between healthy curiosity and smart, safe sexual practices. Her reflections on her friends' sexual preferences and on her own sexual health are cogent and perceptive, and she moves forward with consideration and awareness.
All the while, Sherri is working on a duet for the upcoming winter piano recital with her principal, a man who is clearly musically talented and under whose tutelage she grows as a musician herself. But Principal Falconer is also impetuous and emotional, and he is too indulgent in his attraction to Sherri, who is a student half his age. He has also managed to coerce her to do an internship at a nearby weapons manufacturing headquarters, where she is exposed to sensitive information about various designs for nuclear weapons parts, which makes her extremely uneasy. When her partner for the internship goes missing, Sherri discovers that all of the threads of her life at Salisbury seem to connect in an unexpected and terrifying way.
In the end, however, the most important thing for Sherri is Cory. Can they reconcile their differences? Can they learn to be lovers and yet still to set boundaries, to allow freedoms, and to feel happy and satisfied without being smothered or abandoned? Sherri and Cory's story is an honest look at young love—open-eyed, unblinking, unflinching, and true.
Discussion questions concerning the various philosophical viewpoints and ideas in the novel, as well as about several important aspects of the plot, appear at the end of the book.
Sample pages are available for this book. Click here to view PDF.