Two wounded teens find companionship in an English seaside town.
Myla, a mixed-race teenage girl of Mauritian and Irish heritage, has agoraphobia. Two years ago her sister was abducted and murdered while they were both at the beach, and since then, the only form of socialization that doesn’t cause severe panic attacks is online. That is, until Jamie comes along. Jamie, a freckle-faced, white teenage boy, is visiting his aunt, a friend of Myla’s mum. His troubles back home with his mother have led to this “vacation.” He also has his own personal demon: his relationship with food and eating is strained to nonexistent. He doesn’t like to acknowledge it, even when those around him notice. The two are brought together against their will, but eventually they begin to develop a connection on their own and come to trust each other. That trust becomes tested as frightening events bring Myla’s past right into the present. Will they help each other through their personal wars? Or will they continue to fight their battles separately? Though the story is occasionally awkwardly paced, Rushton does a grand job describing the heaviness and pain of loss, grief, and mental illness with a truthfulness and humanity that pulls readers in. The conflicts of Myla’s story intertwine with those of Jamie’s in an organic way. The relationship between the two narrators may feel trope-y at times, but Rushton makes it believable.
Absorbing. (Fiction. 14-18)