On the night of their high school graduation, Jonathan Tart drank, drove, and killed a female classmate, shaking an otherwise “boring, run-of-the-mill” suburb to its core.
In a clever twist on a topic that has often been visited in teen fiction, Bass tells this story from the perspective of Jonathan’s younger sister, Amanda. Innocent yet guilty by association, Amanda has spent the past year and a half of Jonathan’s prison sentence struggling to reconcile her love for her brother with the self-imposed burden of being the repentant face of a seemingly remorseless killer’s family. What little progress she’s made will be put to the ultimate test now that Jonathan is coming home. Unfortunately, while the premise is intriguing, the story never quite lives up to its potential, largely because there is so little to redeem Jonathan’s destructive and repugnant behavior. Aside from blood ties, it is nearly impossible to comprehend Amanda’s devotion to him. As a result, the story’s most promising plotline—Amanda’s struggle to claim a life and identity of her own—cannot sustain the weight of her older brother’s dark shadow until it is far too little and late. The novel may be told by his sister, but make no mistake, this is Jonathan Tart’s tale.
A great idea that gets lost along the way. (Fiction. 14-18)