A streetwise Svengali with questionable motives seduces a group of teen addicts.
When high school junior Greer gets caught shoplifting for the third time, her parents send her to a pricey rehab facility, where she meets Addison, a gorgeous, saintly recovering alcoholic. Their attraction is immediate, but there is one irritating grain of sand in the oyster of their love. His name is Joshua, and he is Addison’s adult sponsor, guru and adoptive father. His background is vague, and his speech is an off-putting mix of pretentious psychobabble and biblical doctrine. Even though Greer distrusts Joshua on sight, she keeps her suspicions to herself since the romance is still new. But then at a bizarre weekend getaway, Joshua plays a series of inappropriate mind games with Addison, Greer and their roommates in order to bring them under his sway. Greer sees through his manipulations and attempts to separate her boyfriend from his spiritual guide with predictably tragic results. The plot strains credulity (it’s hard to believe any reputable youth rehabilitation center would allow a non–staff member so much access to its patients), the pacing is slowed by long-winded therapy-speak and the abrupt ending is unsatisfying. Nevertheless, the characterizations ring true, especially of creepy Joshua and skeptical Greer, who have clearly met their match in each other.
Compelling characters, disappointing denouement. (Fiction. 14 & up)