Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose. Gillian McCain & Legs McNeil. 2014. 339 pages. Sourcebooks Fire. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] Haunting. That’s the only word that could describe how I felt after finishing this diary. It’s billed a real diary, and that makes it that much harder to digest. I enjoyed reading Go Ask Alice as a teen. I figured this book would be in the same vein, but it’s so much more. It really is a window into the mind of a young girl — Mary — whose live is ravaged by pain. Her home life is unstable and abusive, her body is being destroyed by cystic fibrosis, and she is severely addicted to drugs and alcohol. She’s only 15.
This Is Where It Ends. Marieke Nijkamp. 2016. 288 pages. Sourcebooks Fire. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] Reading this book will leave you shell-shocked. It is haunting. It is emotionally draining. It is real. This Is Where It Ends is told over the course of 54 minutes. But in those 54 minutes, you experience an entire lifetime. The day starts as quietly as any other in sleepy Opportunity, Alabama, with the local high school welcoming students back to a new semester with a school-wide assembly meant to motivate and encourage the student body. Things quickly turn when students and faculty find themselves trapped inside with a lone gunman, intent on leaving his tragic mark on their community. The story is told from first-person accounts of several students. There’s Autumn, the junior whose brother Tyler is the gunman. There is also Sylv, Autumn’s girlfriend. Tomas is Sylv’s twin brother, who finds himself and his friend Fareed as one of few students in a position to save everyone trapped in the auditorium. Claire, whose brother Matt is trapped inside, is Tyler’s ex-girlfriend. Interspersed within are accounts of the shooting found on various social media platforms from people connected to those inside.
Awake. Natasha Preston. 2015. 336 pages. Sourcebooks Fire. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] This was a tough book to read, but it was just as tough to put it down. Awake follows Scarlet, a teenager who has led a mostly normal life, except for the fact that she can’t remember anything before she was 4 years old. With the introduction of an attractive, attentive new boy in school, Scarlet’s world changes quickly and she starts questioning her past and the people in her life. The story is filled with the angst you’d expect from teens – juggling friendships and jealousy, trying to make “mature” choices based on inexperience and new love. But the underlying question of Scarlet’s past and how it may force its way into her present is inescapable. She’s constantly questioning the motives of those around her and ask she begins to question her family more directly, she starts to unravel some of her truth.
We Are the Goldens. Dana Reinhardt. 2014. Wendy Lamb Books. 208 Pages. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] Unsettled. That’s the immediate feeling I had when I finished We Are the Goldens. This is a book that subtly sucks the reader into the emotional turmoil the narrator experiences but doesn’t give the neatly packaged happy ending that one is wont to have. Here, that’s not a bad thing – the entire book is an exploration of how perceptions distort reality and how things that are seemingly right in front of us are not always so glaringly obvious. This book is honest, in all the ugly ways that life is. We Are the Goldens takes readers on a journey with high school freshman Nell as she slowly comes to terms with the shift in the relationship she holds with her older sister Layla. The two have always been inseparable, and Nell eagerly looks forward to starting high school with junior Layla. What Nell expects to be a continuation of their previous relationship actually ends up being a reality check about the two sisters’ distinct identities and experiences.
Since You’ve Been Gone. Mary Jennifer Payne. 2015. Dundurn. 224 pages. [Source: NetGalley]. It’s not often that a book leaves me unsettled, but more and more I’m finding that YA books leave me just that. Since You’ve Been Gone follows 15-year-old Edie Fraser as she adjusts to life in England after abruptly fleeing her home in Canada with her mother. Mere days after settling into a new home and school, Edie comes home to find that her mother has failed to keep their communication pact and is missing. Edie is left to further adjust to life in a strange new city by herself but also find out what’s become of her mother. In her attempts to do so, she runs afoul of administrators in her school and the people she’s come to consider her new friends.