Hey everyone, it’s Sarah!
I enjoyed the drama and the grittiness of Giles’s last book that I couldn’t wait to read this one. It promised to be another tough realistic fiction work that I hoped would keep me just as enthralled as with her previous novel. I received this as an eARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Several young lives were lost after a shooting last year. The horror didn’t end there, but continues to have ripple effects throughout the community. Jess lost her older brother, leaving her on her own with her mother. Jess’s mother has become a ghost in her grief and Jess struggles to keep her family afloat, while also looking forward to running away from everything once she graduates. Not only did Jess lose her mother and her brother, but she has also lost her best friend, who was also her brother’s girlfriend. With no support system, Jess is barely hanging on, until she befriends Lucas at her after-school job. While she wanted nothing to do with him and nothing to do with a reminder of what she has lost, Jess finds that Lucas may be one of the only people who could ever truly understand. Lucas also lost his older brother in the shooting last year, and that event has changed the entire landscape of his life. Lucas’s brother was a picture perfect football player, who was everything his parents could ever ask for and Lucas was able to just be himself. However with the vacuum of his brother’s loss, Lucas finds his parent’s taking a laser-focused interest in him. Lucas’s parents will not lose their only surviving son and their protection/ presence becomes suffocating. While both families are having a difficult time, it might be the connection of these two teens that will help the healing truly begin.
The characters and the plot of this novel kept me on the edge of my seat. It was emotionally tough throughout. I appreciate the fact that Giles shows characters grieving in unique ways, as opposed to relying on the grieving trope of disconnection. I wanted so much for each of these characters and would have been happy with spending longer in their world. I think this is a novel that many readers will connect to, as violent crimes and grief continue to be a part of our society.