In Mani’s debut novel about cliques and finding one’s place, a mysterious stranger brings love to a lonely teenage girl, but there’s a celestial twist.
At home, beautiful but modest Delilah Simms tries to emotionally support her mother, Susan, still wrapped in grief over the death of Darcy, Delilah’s sister. The girls’ father, Joe, lives elsewhere and is still in touch, but he’s no useful support to Delilah, who tries to avoid conflict at home (her mother lashes out and believes she can still speak to Darcy). And at her high school in Queens, New York, the “Imitators” (bossed by Rachael, the meanest mean girl) call her “little piggy.” Charlotte, Delilah’s former best friend, is in the heckling pack, but Delilah can’t understand why. Mani’s gracefully written, fast-paced story shows the teen as she seeks refuge in walks, running laps on the track, and visits to the congenial neighborhood coffee shop. Life changes when two men at the track frighten her, though River, a handsome college student she saw in the coffee shop, tries to warn them off. When the guys bash River with a brick, Delilah drives them off with the bloodstained weapon. River refuses an ambulance, so she takes him to her nearby home. Can she trust this man, who has the most heavenly blue eyes she’s ever seen? Should she invite him into her life? Her heart cries “Yes,” but when she overhears him talking (on the phone she thinks) to an unseen presence in her house, she’s not sure. Their innocently chaste romance leads her to understand that there are things existing in heaven and on Earth that she never suspected, including guardian angels and voices from the grave. While characters struggle to move beyond stereotypes—clueless parents, mean girls, bad girls, etc.—Mani’s refreshingly optimistic fiction shows the teen years as more than discontent and angst. Suspicious coincidences and unforeseen consequences ultimately enrich Delilah’s life, and thanks to a Ouija board (and a little help from heaven), there’s a happy ending on the horizon as characters gain insight and forgive themselves and others.
Refreshingly optimistic YA with divine inspiration.