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“A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever.”
Summary: Like most teens, Tricia, Emerson, Angie, Brenda, and Brian are absorbed in their own lives, past and present. At nearly 18, Tricia is teetering between the overwhelming grief of losing her last living relative, pressure from a local real estate mogul to buy her childhood home, and a smothering boyfriend. Brian thought he loved Tricia enough to get her through it and live happily ever after; now he's not so sure what his future will be. Emerson knows he's ready to break up with Angie, but isn't sure how. For Brenda, being Angie's best friend and Brian's cousin makes it *easier* to keep life at bay. As they work through their own issues, they learn that their solutions might just lie beyond themselves and in their connections to each other. This is a young adult novel told from five points of view, with five writing styles.
Type of Reading: independent reading
Recommended Age: read together: 13 and Up; read yourself: 15 and Up
Interest Level: 14 and Up
Reading Level: 5.7
Age of Child: Read by a 15-year-old girl.
Young Reader Reaction: She loved it so much she not only read it in one night, she read it again a couple days later. Our daughter said that she could relate to all of the characters (including the boys) and the issues they were dealing with.
Adult Reader Reaction: In a word: Amazing. I was invested immediately, and couldn't put it down. Because each character speaks in first person, I quickly found myself immersed in the emotions of their lives: seeing events from multiple perspectives, reacting to their choices, and worrying about what is or has happened to them. As each character reveals more about their deepest worries, the suspense - and my hope - builds.
Each chapter is time-stamped, moving the story forward in time, but with a different voice at each interval. Each character describes narrates their life in their own way: Tricia journals, Angie's voice is free verse poetry, Brian uses sketches, Brenda *speaks* in screenplay. The variety and short chapters offer lots of options to readers of all levels and attention spans.
Pros: This is realistic fiction at its absolute best. Readers will immediately connect with Brenda, Tricia, Brian, Emerson, and Angie. Some they may even call friends, as you think about these teens long after you've finished reading.
Cons: There are mature themes and subjects in the story, e.g., sex / sexting, that may not be appropriate for young teen audiences.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is a book that every teen should read (yes, boys too), and it is likely to be shared. Highly recommended for parents to read with their teens as a way of opening discussions on relationships, honesty, and tough choices.
Educational Themes: In style, alone, there is a lot to explore (i.e., different ways of journaling / writing / telling a story). The story also opens opportunities for discussing some of the issues the characters deal with (e.g., death and grief) but also choices (sexting) with teens.
Notes: The Reading Tub® received an ARC (advance review copy) of this book from the author at Book Expo America.
Literary Categories: Fiction - family, friendship, coming of age, young adult, realistic fiction, death and loss, contemporary
Date(s) Reviewed: September 2015
Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. No reader feedback found at the time of this review.