I picked this book up at my library a couple of weeks ago because I wanted to have a vacation read that was a stand alone novel--something I could enjoy temporarily and not get too swept away in while spending time with my family. I ended up barely having time to read while we were away so I didn't start this until I got back. And wow! It was good! Here's my summary:
Jenna Lord's life hasn't been easy. When she was a child, she almost died in a fire. Now as a sixteen-year-old she's almost died for a second time. Jenna tells the story of how she got to this point into a tape recorder for a detective. It goes a little something like this: Ever since Jenna's grandma killed herself and her grandpa was put in a home, her mom has been a drunk, stressing out over her failing business. Her dad is a doctor who's never home and always sleeping around. Her brother shipped off to Iraq just to get away from all the crazy. So it's no wonder Jenna cuts herself to feel better. She's spent some time in an institution and now her dad feels it's time for her to make a fresh start at a new school. That's where Jenna meets Mr. Anderson. He's a great teacher, dedicated track coach, and...a married man. He takes an instant liking to Jenna, wanting to help her and make her feel OK about who she is and her past. But things quickly go further than either of them planned. They fall in love. But then one of the girls at Jenna's school goes missing and when Jenna pieces together things she's seen and heard, she starts to suspect Mr. Anderson isn't all he says he is. What happens when she confronts him has devastating consequences for them both.
**I love reading a good, dark YA story. This was one of those. Bick tackles several important issues like death, molestation, cutting, alcoholism, and adultery in a well-done, sensitive, and realistic way. Jenna was an easy character to relate to and her arc was different from any other I've read in a while. Her growth and healing came in the most unexpected way. I like how the author let us see that no one is perfect and it's often hard to tell who is good and who is bad, who is guilty and who is innocent. Things are never black and white--life is full of gray.
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