I’ve read my fair share of YA books about the fallout from school shootings, but I think this is one of the best. Don’t shy away from it just because the crime frightens you. This book is about recovery, and it is pretty awesome. Fans of Sarah Dessen and her ilk will thoroughly enjoy this book about learning to live and love again after a shattering tragedy.
“Forgiving you will allow me to forgive myself.”
Morgan didn’t mean to do anything wrong that day. Actually, she meant to do something right. But her kind act inadvertently played a role in a deadly tragedy. In order to move on, Morgan must learn to forgive—first someone who did something that might be unforgivable, and then herself.
But Morgan can’t move on. She can’t even move beyond the front door of the apartment she shares with her mother and little brother. Morgan feels like she’s underwater, unable to surface. Unable to see her friends. Unable to go to school.
When it seems Morgan can’t hold her breath any longer, a new boy moves in next door. Evan reminds her of the salty ocean air and the rush she used to get from swimming. He might be just what she needs to help her reconnect with the world outside.
I liked the fact that Morgan was overwhelmed by her tragic experience because that rings very true to me. At the same time, this book is about proving that the reaction she has isn’t indicative of a character flaw or inherent weakness. Morgan feels like a real teen with a real life before her brush with death, and that is what will make her feel believable and engaging to readers – this is a reaction that any of us could have. Her journey back, too, feels attainable. It is laced with love – a sweet romance does serve as some inspiration for her recovery, but it isn’t a romance that is glossed over. There is uncertainty, there is miscommunication, but there is also hope. The school shooting is a major factor in the plot, but family dynamics add a complexity to the story that I think readers will appreciate. This is a fast read, but the pace doesn’t feel rushed. It takes the time necessary to lay out relationships and emotions without creating long lulls. I think most readers will be surprised at how quickly they become absorbed and how easily they lose track of time while reading this book. I believe my high school readers will enjoy this book, and it’s going on my classroom library wish list! Language and situations are appropriate for high school readers, but adult readers of YA will also find it compelling.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.