This book is a 2006 Cybil Award Nominee for YA Fiction.
Debbie Badowski doesn't know what to do when her best friend, 21-year-old Maeve, leaves her a cryptic message then disappears. With Maeve, Debbie is alive. She isn't just a 17-year-old leftover from her newly successful mother's previously unsuccessful life. When she is with Maeve, Debbie becomes Tallulah Addy, a platinum blonde bombshell with a tattoo who lives life to the fullest, just like Maeve does. She takes chances, drinks drinks, and laughs like there's no tomorrow. Maeve has promised never to lie to Debbie, and has an intuitive understanding of the breaks left in her heart, so when Maeve seems to be in trouble, Tallulah drops everything to go after her. That's what Maeve would do for her, right?
But soon, Tallulah's the one in trouble. She's made a dumb choice about who to trust, and has been robbed and abandoned in rural Tennessee. She's been walking in painful shoes, and now it's pouring. She just can't call her mother, not this time. Everything Debbie does is wrong in her mother's eyes, and even her best plans look shot full of holes under her scrutiny. So, what would Tallulah do? Debbie's salvation comes in the form of a dog that's been left for dead on the side of the road, whom she knows Maeve would expect her to care for. In a turn of fortune, after a night in jail, the folks at the vet have given Tallulah a bed and a place to work, and Tallulah is on her way toward getting the money she needs to dust this place off of her boots and get back on the road, or she would, if it weren't for Kyle, who's wormed his way into her thoughts.
Tallulah's work in the veterinary hospital is realistic and detailed. Pet messes and snappy dogs are hourly issues, and Dr. Poteet, the cranky vet, pushes her toward doing more than the half-job she'd counted on. Dr. Poteet is found to have a slightly softer side as he alternately bludgeons Tallulah toward going home and facing her particular music, and encourages her to expand her horizons to be someone other than just a runaway who drops things when they get difficult. Tallulah is just on the cusp of making a decision that could change everything when Maeve finds her. Suddenly, nothing is the way Tallulah thought it would be, and she finds that Maeve's zest for life hides a darker drive. Debbie must make the decision to face up to her truths, and Maeve's too -- or else no one will be left standing when Tallulah Falls.