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“The greatest gift is a passion for reading.”
Summary: To hear Evie tell it, life is pretty boring. Dad disappeared years ago; Mom works long days and has no clue to what she's up to; and high school is filled with fakers. The highlight of her life is her crush on Jonah Luks, a college-aged boy who collects the bodies of dead animals at the some time Evie delivers the Sunday papers. When Jonah discovers a dead body - classmate Elizabeth McCabe - Evie's life changes. It starts with false claims that she was one of Zabet's close friend and then befriending the person who was: Hadley Smith. Together, the girls decide to solve the mystery of Zabet's death ... and Evie discovers that there's a whole 'nother world out there. This young adult novel is part mystery, part coming-of-age story for teen readers. This is a high interest / low readability book for high school students. There are mature themes.
Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud book, remedial reader
Recommended Age: read together: 12 and up; read yourself: 14 and up
Interest Level: 12 and up
Reading Level: 5.3
Young Reader Reaction: Teen review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is an engaging, eerie story that is too-true-to-life for teens today. The cover is just brilliant! The story was slow to get into, not because of the subject, but because of the overuse of cliche. As Evie and Hadley's relationship strengthens a lot of that goes away. I liked that it didn't glorify any of the vices that sometimes interest teens. This could be an awakening for adults and as such would make a good book for a mother-daughter book club. This could easily be a crossover book.
Pros: Teens and adults who like realistic fiction and mysteries will find this book a page turner.
Cons: There are mature themes - underage drinking, frat parties, sex, that some families may not want in books for their teens.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a fast read, and it is worth a second read, as there will be clues and nuances missed the first time.
Educational Themes: There are lots of relationship themes - friendship, parent-child, loss, crushes, peers, and school - as well as a number of topics that speak to personal choice and consequence. This is a book meant to be shared and discussed.
Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.
Literary Categories: Fiction - young adult, realistic fiction, coming of age, mystery, death and loss, family
Date(s) Reviewed: June 2011
Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.