Life doesn't have to be defined by death, but try telling that to sympathetic strangers.
In the year after Paige's boyfriend dies in a freak drowning accident, she gets a lot of kind looks from people who feel sorry for her. After a while, that's not what she needs. She needs to get over her boyfriend's death and move on, but that's not easy. Her grandmother, Paige's champion and confidante, has Alzheimer's disease. Her divorced parents make an uncomfortable situation even stranger by revealing a bizarre secret. But as long as Paige has her friends, things are OK. When she becomes close to a few new people, even better. And when one of those new people seems like something more than a friend, great! Lord delivers teenage characters in full bloom who love hard, fall hard, cry hard and remain ferociously committed to one another. She taps into a very specific human drive—the need to be recognized and appreciated for one's own talents—and provides an engaging backdrop of high school life. Occasionally, her characters come across the page a tad too emotionally developed, but distinct prose—“Max was the first bite of grilled cheese on a snowy day, the easy fit of my favorite jeans”—keeps them easy to relate to.
A sweet story about forging an identity beyond tragedy. (Fiction. 12-18)