This is the one of the stronger Maureen Johnson books, and one of the ones I typically point people in the direction of starting her books. It’s also very telling that the cover synopsis for this, as with most of Maureen Johnson’s other books, put such a heavy emphasis on the romance aspect of the story, when it really only plays a minor role in the story.Bermudez Triangle is one of the few were the romance is a major role in the story, but it’s less focused on the puppy love ideology of a lot of romance YA. So much of this is about growing up and moving on from high school and dealing with personal identity for the first time. And I think that Johnson really pulls it off without being too heavy-handed or cloying. What works here is the dynamic between the titular Triangle. Mel, Avery and Nina really do come off as girls who would have been friends since they were little, and don’t really fall victim to being just friends of convenience. And they still have their own interests and lives without each other—I like the fact that Avery can’t make fun of school council and prep meetings because Nina’s a member, and she doesn’t want to hurt her friends’ feelings. But when the worst happens, they’re always finding one another and relying on each other. I really feel a lot with Nina, being stuck in the middle between Mel and Avery while her feelings are hurt from all of the secrets from the summer.The sexual identity question is also handled really well. A lot of the coming out drama does feel like the standard discovery and subsequent grappling with being “gay,” but it doesn’t come off as stereotypical or overplayed. I liked that Avery doesn’t know if she’s really gay or bi or even just experimenting for the hell of it. I even liked that she has reservations about coming out and that her mind tends to jump to the stereotypical associations about being a lesbian, including having to listen to k.d. Lang and the Indigo Girls. (And that when such stereotypes are brought up to Mel, her reaction is “Who’s that?”) And completely illustrating my point above, when Mel’s mother is verbally attacking the girls for their relationship, Avery’s the one who jumps to Mel’s defense. It really shows how strong the bond is between the girls, even in times of crisis.Even though Mel is a lot more comfortable in her newfound identity, I love that she’s similarly struggling with coming out. She desperately wants to show off Avery and the fact that they’re girlfriends, but she’s afraid to admit it to her own family. I like to think that she understands the gravity of the situation more than Avery claims, but Mel wants to claim her identity, despite those reservations. She’s pretty much my favorite character in the whole thing.In regards to her friends, Nina does have a much stronger dynamic. She’s the one who first goes away, and does something outside of her friends, but doesn’t know how to deal with the new dynamic after the summer. She definitely does feel betrayed by Mel and Avery, but honestly doesn’t know how to deal with it. I’m not as big of a fan of her romance subplot, but I like that it does illustrate the problems with a young, long-distance relationship. I also like that there’s a genuine question left in the air near the end about if she will get back with Steve or not. And while I love Parker and his fantastic, S-stealing antics, his motives for being with Nina came off as little too “Nice Guy” argument, which kinda rubbed me the wrong way. The other thing I love about this book is the normality and reality of everything. There’s no overdone high school clique setting, there’s no real stereotypical small town characters, no quirky people to liven things up. It feels like a story that could happen almost anywhere. I even really like the scenes with Avery and Mel at their waitressing job, as it reminds of almost every job I’ve had. (Minus some of the sabotage scenes. But everything else, oh God, the stories.) This is definitely more dramatic than most of the other entries in Johnson’s bibliography, but it still manages to be extremely funny and touching at the same time. I would rank this near my automatic go-to reads for her works, especially if you’re just starting out on Maureen Johnson.