Secrets and lies and guilt and shame choke this mild thriller.
Autistic teen Kit is found dead after disappearing from an end-of-school celebration. Narrator Clem was the last to see Kit alive and blames herself for his death—they were members of a Circle of Friends, a middle school group whose mission was to support Kit. Instead of keeping an eye on Kit in the noisy dark of the party, she was staring at her crush. Clem’s not the only one hiding something. Her best friend, Ellie, is acting suspicious, and Clem’s childhood pal Jake has a secret, too: he brought Kit to the party and blames himself for the outcome of that fateful night. Together, Clem and Jake set out to locate anyone else who saw Kit during his last moments in order to exonerate themselves. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t hold together. One-dimensional parents, the whimsical treatment of autism (Kit’s mother refers to him as “inspiring,” and Clem wants Kit to be the theme of the theater class revue), the ease with which Clem forgives blackmailer Ellie for her trespasses, and Ellie’s excuse-making for her volatile boyfriend mar what could have been an intriguing read. Race is not mentioned, implying that the characters are white.
Too many flaws to make it worthy of precious reading time. (Mystery. 12-16)