Two teens meet under unusual and sorrowful circumstances, and together they learn that life is full of both joy and despair.
During a morning swim, 18-year-old Mads Murray discovers a woman’s body floating in Seattle’s Lake Union. When the local news reveals the woman’s identity, Mads becomes obsessed with finding proof that Anna Youngwolf Floyd was more than a dead body, that she was a real person with connections to the world. Readers learn Anna’s depression drove her to jump off the Aurora Bridge, but Mads, who is no stranger to depression, doesn’t know that yet. Mads, in Seattle for the summer for an accelerated real estate course, is the only hope for the survival of her mentally ill mother’s business, a fact that fills her with dread. Desperate to know why someone would end her own life, she finds a way to meet Anna’s 19-year-old son, kindhearted dog-rescuer Billy, who’s ignorant of his connection to Mads. The novel treats depression for what it is: a sometimes-debilitating illness one can’t simply snap out of; it’s neither a personality flaw nor a shortcoming. Third-person limited perspective alternates between Mads and Billy, resulting in loads of dramatic irony, and Mads and Billy’s mutual love of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a sweet leitmotif. The gently chiding and honest narrative voice keeps its astute focus on the characters’ emotions and does not plumb the heritage implied by Anna’s name.
A cleareyed story about love and loss, mental illness, and taking charge of one’s own fate. (Fiction. 15-19)