This debut novel chronicles a disturbed teen girl’s descent into madness.
Easter has Problems (of the capital P variety). First, there is The Lonely, which she inherited from The Mother. Then there is The Terrible Thing, which leaves her “just a bleeding ornament” crushed beneath a boulder in The Woods at the novel’s onset, waiting for The Something Coming. Her sister, Julia, is the most vocal of an assortment of strange family members that readers meet as Easter bounces through time in her often unreliable narration. Alternating between her present in The Woods (complete with cigarette-smoking, hamburger-eating squirrels) and flashbacks of the troubling, hallucination-filled events of her past, Easter is obviously a victim of undiagnosed mental illness and parents ill-equipped to handle her problems. By the time help is sought, Easter may be too far gone to recover. Beautiful prose masks plot holes, and the dark humor often falls flat. Teens may lack the incentive to finish, although the grossness factor may keep the attention of a few. Adults (who may be the most apt audience for the book) could be left with the feeling that Hogarth was simply trying too hard to write a strangely great tale that is less great and too strange.
An initially promising psychological thriller that ultimately fails to deliver. (Thriller. 14 & up)