Isolated by three untimely deaths, a diverse assortment of teen millennials seeks healing in friendship and music.
Shy Autumn, a Korean-American adoptee, was stunned when her best friend, Tavia, a lively Latinx extrovert, died in a one-car accident returning from a party. Autumn’s guilt over having skipped the party to hang out with Tavia’s brother, Dante, threatens to derail their dawning romance. Bram died months after he’d left Logan for Latinx Yara, a girl. In pain, blocked emotionally and creatively, Logan, a white, singer/songwriter, self-medicates with alcohol. Black identical twins Shay and Sasha were close until leukemia took Sasha’s life. Shay was a strong student and runner; now panic attacks prevent her from focusing on school or the music fan site the two started, on which they’d promoted a once-promising, now-defunct band called Unraveling Lovely—made up of Logan, Dante, and Sasha’s boyfriend, Rohan. Their intersecting stories chart how the void left by death reshapes relationships among survivors: friends, parents, children. Sasha’s long illness defined her three-person family; now Shay and her mother must remake their connection. For Logan, Yara proves an unexpected ally. While Shay and Logan have strong, distinctive voices, Autumn’s agony—with her shorter emotional journey and narrative arc—is less convincing. (That her adopted status might affect her reaction to loss is suggested but unexplored.) All cherish images and voices of those lost, preserved in digital media, but the sensitively wrought narrative braid argues that only the living can comfort and heal.
An ambitious debut from a writer to watch. (Fiction. 14-17)