It is hard to explain how a book about depression made me so very happy. Both Madison and Billy have been balancing the emotions of their unstable mothers and are living with the soul crushing responsibility and guilt that comes with the parenting of a depressed parent. They find in each other, though, those effervescent moments of happiness and joy that are pure pleasure to experience through them.
Sometimes people want to be lost. Madison—Mads to everyone who knows her—is trying her best to escape herself during one last summer away from a mother who needs more from her than she can give, and from a future that has been decided by everyone but her.
Sometimes the lost do the unimaginable, like the woman, the body, Mads collides with in the middle of the water on a traumatic morning that changes everything.
And sometimes the lost are the ones left behind, like the son of the woman in the water, Billy Youngwolf Floyd. Billy is struggling to find his way through each day in the shadow of grief. His one comfort is the map he carries in his pocket, out of his favorite book, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
When three lives (and one special, shared book) collide, strange things happen. Things like questions and coincidences and secrets—lots of secrets. Things like falling in love. But can two lost people telling so many lies find their way through tragedy to each other…and to solid ground?
I think these characters rang so true because their feelings, pretty and ugly, are believable and honest. The quirks and tells of a lifetime spent walking a tightrope feel just right, and the book is paced to develop them fully. I’m not going to lie – their relationship is messy and uncertain, but it feels like the truth. The lessons they learn about themselves and about life add a real depth. The secondary characters lighten the mood, and the shared dream they have to live out a childhood fantasy inspired by a beloved middle school book is sweet and realistic. I think my high school students will respond to these characters and their situation. I definitely want to include it in my classroom library, so it is going on the wish list. Language and situations are appropriate for grades 8+, but adult readers will appreciate it as well.
I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.