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It’s 1993, and Rory Ramos works as a ranch hand at the stable her stepfather manages in Topanga Canyon, California, a dry, dusty place reliant on horses and hierarchies. There she rides for the rich clientele, including twins June and Wade Fisk. While Rory draws the interest of out-and-proud June, she’s more intrigued by Vivian Price, the beautiful girl with the movie-star father who lives down the hill. Rory keeps largely separate from the likes of the Prices—but, perched on her bedroom windowsill, Rory steals glimpses of Vivian swimming in her pool nearly every night.
After Rory’s stepfather is involved in a tragic car accident, the lives of Rory, June, and Vivian become inextricably bound together. Rory discovers photography, begins riding more competitively, and grows closer to seductive, mercurial Vivian, but despite her newfound sense of self, disaster lurks all around her in this “exquisite exploration of hurt and desire” (Jeannette Walls): in the parched landscape, in her unruly longings, in her stepfather’s wrecked body and guilty conscience. One night, as the relationships among these teenagers, come to a head, a forest fire tears through the canyon, and Rory’s life is changed forever.
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