This debut novel delves deeply into a possibly psychotic character or, perhaps, one who may be experiencing paranormal events.
Fourteen-year-old Ellie nearly died in a car crash that killed her mother, or perhaps it was her father who died. A lonely girl who believes her best friend betrayed her, Ellie moves with her family to a tiny town where Ellie meets the beautiful and fascinating Madeline Torus, apparently Ellie’s alter ego. Madeline simply appears in Ellie’s room, where the two become fast but secret friends. When Ellie starts high school in her new town, Madeline remains in the background, although Ellie claims that it’s Madeline who’s helping around the house. The girl has a history of psychological problems, even including a suicide attempt. She remains convinced Madeline is real although no one else can see the girl—or can they? As Ellie begins to settle in, will Madeline help or hinder her? Madeline has a similar suicidal history….This may be Stewart’s first novel, but she exhibits a practiced skill, keeping events ambiguous enough to have readers guessing throughout. Written in journal form, the scenes change as Ellie enters new periods in her life and begins new journals. Readers, then, encounter only the unreliable narrator, and it is they who will decide if events have been real or imagined.
A most intriguing book and debut. (Suspense. 12 & up)