This debut YA novel, the first installment in a series, follows an adopted teenager who moves to Alabama.
Jessica Delaney is accustomed to relocating at a moment’s notice, whenever neighbors find out a family secret. But the most recent move exudes an air of semi-permanence; the clan settles in Credence, Alabama, Jessica’s adoptive mother’s hometown. And her mom has a teaching position, not like the Waffle House waitress job she held in Atlanta. Moreover, Jessica lives next door to her aunt and her two cousins, Pade and Bailey. Both 15, Jessica and Bailey quickly become fast friends, with Bailey encouraging Jessica’s interest in her popular quarterback brother, Pade. Worried that the “ick” cousin factor is a bit strong, despite the fact she’s adopted, Jessica denies her attraction, particularly because it elicits the jealousy of bully Tosh Henley. Jessica also feels an immediate strong kinship with fellow new student Chase Pearson, although she suspects he and his teacher-mother are hiding something, even while he and Bailey become romantic quickly. Jessica’s concern that her father is concealing a recurrence of his cancer adds even more stress to her typical teenage angst, amplified by a typically bad adolescent decision that has life-changing consequences. While she experiences increasingly strange dreams related to her early childhood and adoption, a tragedy threatens her tenuous newfound security in Credence. Heavy-handed foreshadowing at the outset of this novel by engineer and native Alabamian Bolick sets the reader up for a far more ominous back story than Jessica’s forgotten early childhood. But the Delaneys’ decision to flee in the darkness of night seems unwarranted. Indeed, a few red herrings remain unresolved—Jessica’s parents’ insistence that everyone know she’s adopted, for example—whether by design or accident. Also unexplained is why her parents alter Jessica’s physical appearance, in light of their openness concerning her adoption. Despite these unanswered questions and a generally excessive emotional intensity (perhaps well-suited to a YA tale), this book remains an enjoyable page-turner that should leave readers eager to discover whether the promised sequel ties up all the loose ends.
A young heroine copes with bizarre dreams in a surprisingly fresh paranormal romance.