A teenager uncovers a secret that alters her entire reality.
It’s March 1998. Jess Flynn is thinking of college and longing to leave the confines of her small town. Her mother is overprotective; her sister, Sara, is receiving palliative care for an incurable disease; and Jess is falling for her best friend, Tyler, whom she’s been close to for 6 years. Every year the month of March brings Jess anxiety that something major is going to happen: Three years earlier, Sara received her diagnosis; the next year there was a tornado; and one year ago, Jess’ family’s home was burglarized. Now Jess is hyperaware of her surroundings, and she notices many things too strange to be ignored: far-off voices chanting outside, a mysterious flu spreading around town, and her closest friends keeping secrets. The strangest of all? Jess discovers that her dog has been replaced with a look-alike and her parents have no explanation. Jess decides to investigate, but she must tread cautiously because someone is watching her every move. Pop-culture references from the ’90s are paramount to the story’s façade, and the final plot twist packs a punch. This is a fun stand-alone, but the ending leaves room for readers to explore more of Jess’ world in the next series entry. The main cast is assumed White except for Jess’ friend Amber, who is cued as Black.
A thrilling and thought-provoking ride.(Speculative fiction. 12-18)