This no-holds-barred, suspenseful examination of domestic abuse serves as a powerful warning.
High schooler Taylor stoically identifies her older sister’s body and witnesses the end of her autopsy after her boyfriend finally beats her to death. The girl takes charge of her 6-year-old nephew, Mason, and moves away to live with her overworked grandparents. But Taylor herself is involved with a violent boyfriend. It’s a textbook abusive relationship: Devon calls her constantly and threatens to beat her, imagining that she might be involved with another boy, and although fearful, Taylor believes she loves Devon and thinks she can control him with sex. She finally makes a real friend, Lily, who falls victim with Taylor when Devon and his friend Conor raise the stakes. The boys take the girls to a remote cabin with no heat, where they hold them hostage. Rather like Devon, Moser pulls no punches in describing a realistic situation of domestic violence, presenting an alternative to Taylor’s submission in feisty Lily. The narrative frankly describes several sexual acts as the only power Taylor has over Devon. It touches on Devon’s own experience of domestic abuse at the hands of his father, demonstrating the cycle of abuse. The characterizations come across as completely believable, and the prose is absolutely gripping.
An excellent and absorbing cautionary tale. (Fiction. 14 & up)