I went up to the attic. I looked around, sat on the floor, and then got up again. Mom and Dad found me there after a while, looking for something to drink.
They made an emergency therapy appointment for me right away. I hate that I’ve become a bunch of quotation marks. “In Recovery.” “At Risk.”
At the end of school year, Amy and her best friend Julia attend a party, but only one of them makes it home alive after a deadly car accident. Blaming herself and recovering from alcohol abuse, now sixteen-year-old Amy checks out of rehab in time to start school without her friend. She feels out of place and flounders, refusing to reach out to the existing cliques. The only people who talk to her are English partners Mel and Caro, whom she used to call Corn Syrup. Caro and Mel might have their own problems, but it’s silent Patrick who Amy feels drawn to. But does Amy deserve to be happy after what she did?
I was reminded of Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson when reading this book, and there are quite a few similarities. Girl feels responsible for and must come to terms with best friend’s death due to their self-destructive behaviors. Anderson’s narrative has much more immediacy then Scott’s though, grabbing your attention from the first page. It’s the quote cited above that really grabbed my attention in this book. You don’t find out exactly how Julia dies until about half way through, and by that time budding romances and friendships keep you invested through the rest of your wavering attention span. Scott’s narration is slow build up, followed by some emotional and tense scenes where Amy has ephiphanies about her past and open up to her parents and therapist. Some readers might be slowed down by her letters to Julia, in which she mostly rehashes the events and feelings that readers are privy to already. Her parents are actually portrayed with depth in the few scenes they appear in, trying to determine what’s best for their daughter while pulling strength from eachother. I was able to sympathize with them almost immediately as they struggled to relate to their daughter and come to terms with what little they know about what has happened.
I’m not sure how I feel about the characters. The book has some strong characters, and while I liked aspects of each, I never really fell in love with any of them. Amy is opinionated and strong-willed, which helps her maintain her self-reliance during school and home, but her dependance on Julia and her second-guessing nature impede her development and growth. She sees a relationship possibility between other characters, but doesn’t realize Patrick’s interest in her until it’s completely spelled out, even though they have a history and similarities that allow them to relate to eachother. Her sessions with her therapist probably give the most insight into her character. Caro is weak-willed when it comes to her friends and the school’s social pecking order, but she grants herself more self-worth in her love life, at the end of the story saying “He picked her, and even though he changed his mind, I want a guy who will pick me first. [...] I deserve better.” (275) I never got a full grasp on Patrick, who seems insightful beyond his years and which might contribute to his silence in social settings. I had high hopes for Mel, who was the first to interact with Amy at school, but I ended up being disappointed by his association with queen-bee Beth at the school. All in all, no one and nothing that I really loved or really hated.