Jake Hyde is in his junior year of high school and wants to study the ocean. He's never even seen the ocean, living in Truth or Consequences, NM, but he's always felt drawn there. His best friend Maria wants to study closer to home, and Jake's overprotective mother would agree. After his father drowned when he was a baby, his mother has all but forbid him to go near open water. There are other complications, like the weird birth marks Jake has up and down his arms and legs that glow when wet, and his growing crush on Kenny Liu, captain of the swim team.
The story moves at a nice pace, allowing plenty of time for the characters to show who they are and Julie Maroh ('Blue is the Warmest Color') provides a dreamy landscape that doesn't dilute the sharper aspects of the story. I'd forgotten this was a DC Comics graphic novel when Jake and Maria spot Superman flying high in the sky towards the West coast while hiking.
This novel succeeds as a coming-of-age story, complete with first romance, tears and drama as well as an origin story for Aqualad. There is an astonishing amount of LGBTQIA books coming out now (yay!), and this one hits all the marks.