It is 1993 and Zak Walker, newly arrived at Carver Central High School from his native Vermont, finds himself in the same homeroom with a pretty young woman named Ivy Whitman. Zak's parents have recently separated, as his mother has returned to school, and as he tries to make friends and navigate his way in the large, diverse, urban high school, he finds himself increasing drawn to the smart, ambitious young African American woman who sometimes sits across from him. In time, Ivy, the of a career Army Colonel and a kind, loving mother from North Carolina, comes to notice this shy, quiet boy, and as they become friends she weighs her gathering affections for Zak against the gathering resistance of her best friend, Yvonne, and the absorbed wisdom of her family, to dating a "White Boy". Thirty years after the civil rights movement, she discovers, the taboos against interracial relationships are still alive and well in America, and Ivy must decide with whom her true loyalties should lie: her friends, her family, or herself.
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