This is the story of a girl named Charlotte.
Charlotte likes to be called Lottie.
She is 15 years old, 5 more months until 16.
There are three things that will define the rest of her life:
She likes bad boys.
She beats herself up for her mistakes.
She is too forgiving.
Three things that will destroy her.
Lottie wants to be a criminal psychologist when she grows up.
Her parents are divorced, have been since she was 10 years old, and her mom got full custody, but she still misses her dad every day.
She still feels the pain of her break-up with her very first boyfriend, Ben, which is understandable, since it was just last month. She caught him cheating on her.
The few times she does get to see her dad, he just throws a lot of money at her, because he doesn't know how to say "I'm sorry," or "I love you."
She dyed her hair blonde in an attempt to become a new person and forget all the shit life's thrown at her, but now she just looks trashy, and she knows it, though she won't admit it.
She can't listen to her absolute favorite song of all time, "Thunder" by Boys Like Girls, because it reminds her of Ben too much, and it's winter now.
She sees her dad again, for the first time in a couple months, the first time this year. He's in their kitchen, and he's hitting her mom, so she runs upstairs and pretends, later, when her mom explains her black eye from a run-in with a door, that she believes her. She guesses it has more to do with the fact that her mom forbid her dad to visit Lottie or her older sister, Karina, than it has to do with a door.
Sometimes she "forgets" to eat.
Ben got jumped last night and is in the hospital. She can't shake the feeling it's her feeling it's her fault, though everyone reassures her it had nothing to do with her, Ben saving his own ass and snitching on his friends to avoid getting himself expelled for drugs wan't her fault at all. But she thinks it is.
She finally decides she's ready for her second boyfriend, but then breaks up with him after a week.
Karina doesn't come home one night, which isn't unusual except that they get a call from the cops, and her mom has to go pick Karina up. No one tells Lottie what happened, but she has a few guesses.
She finds a new friend, Delilah, who in turn introduces her to Garrett, Dorian, Blayne, and Maria. She thinks they're much cooler than her other friends, who she's never felt particularly close to, anyway.
Garrett's her third boyfriend and the one she's always wanted, into drugs and drinks.
She has her first drink and gets hammered. It makes her sick, and she's not sure she likes how it feels, but she thinks she'll keep doing it, anyway. Maria does it a bunch, and they're slowly becoming best friends.
Her heart gets broken when she finds out Garrett was cheating on her with Delilah. She wonders why this always seems happens to her.
She's got herself down to 90 pounds, and hopes to lose ten more before she hits 16.
Her hair is losing the blonde, so she dyes it again, because she's starting to like it, and Maria assures her that it doesn't look trashy at all.
Lottie's decided that since she's 17 now, she ought to start going by Charlotte.
She forgives Delilah, because it wasn't really her fault, and she forgives Garrett for the simple reason that she misses him.
She gets drunk, which isn't in itself new (she's discovered it's an acquired taste) but this time she adds some weed to the mix, and somewhere in the midst of the chaos she finds herself with Garrett in someone's bed. When she wakes up in the morning, she's pissed that he would take advantage of her, but he doesn't care and leaves her then and there. She doesn't cry. She's too strong to cry, she tells herself.
She sees Ben at the store, and he says he's sorry for everything he did, and he's grown up now and changed. He says he's a different person, now that he's got a daughter, and he's got a lot of regrets, so he's going to marry his girlfriend because he really does love her. He says, "I've been wishing I could find you, Lottie. I'm so sorry for everything I did. I was a real douchebag." But Charlotte doesn't care, because she's just realized how ugly Ben really is, and besides, she's on boyfriend #7, who's much hotter.
Maria drops out of high school and wants Charlotte to join her, and while Charlotte really wants to, she also doesn't want to, so she tells her no.
Charlotte is panicking because she's starting to suspect she might be pregnant. The only one she's not sure who she used protection with was Garrett, and he was three months ago, which would fit... But she can't be pregnant, because this stuff doesn't happen to her, and really, what was the likelihood of her getting knocked up her first time? That stuff only happens in stories.
She gets mad at Maria, because Maria is going out with Garrett now, and how could she forget how much pain he caused her? And there's still a little part of Charlotte that still loves him.
Charlotte's life is falling apart, because it turns out she is pregnant, and now she has to tell her mom.
She has to drop out of high school, so she can get a job, because her mom hates her at the moment, and Karina is too busy living only for herself... Charlotte doesn't have anyone else. She has to get by somehow.
Maria laughs at her, a bitter laugh, when she asks for help. Just as well, because she's still mad at her, and she doubts Maria could have helped her even if they were on better terms.
She asks everyone she knows for a little help, but the only person who even remotely tries to help her is Dorian, who gives her $10. It's more of a "It's the thought that counts" thing, but it's more than anyone else has offered.
Charlotte shamefully finds a place that will take he in, a shelter for teen mothers, and she wonders how life got this bad.
She finds out her baby's a boy, and she names him Brady, because she always has liked that name.
Suddenly realized that she knows how Ben felt when she said he grew up when he got his daughter. She's grown up now, too, however much she wishes she wasn't.
Charlotte has just barely turned 17, but she feels old.
And even though her dream seems so impossible and so far away now, Charlotte still wants to be a criminal psychologist.