Ella Black is a 17-year-old English girl with a dark side she hides from everyone.
Lately Ella finds it harder and harder to hide Bella—Bad Ella—or the Monster, as she dubs her alter ego. Her parents show up one day at school saying that they all have to go away at once, to Rio de Janeiro, with no explanation. Ella fears that they have found out her secret or that she is terminally ill. But the truth, which she finds out after doing some snooping, is something she had never imagined. Heartbroken and tormented by the secret she discovers, Ella runs away from her parents and ends up in the favelas of Brazil, where she confronts her previous assumptions about the residents. Questioning all she thought she knew about her life, her family, and herself, she learns how to survive while living on the streets. Ella changes her appearance—purple hair makes her noticeable—but how long can she keep herself hidden from those determined to find her? Barr (The One Memory of Flora Banks, 2017, etc.) employs devices such as repetition and sentences broken down into a single word per line that quickly become stale, and the novel drags on for too long. A predictable storyline with lackluster tension, insufficient character growth, and an insta-love romance make this story fall short of being an engaging psychological thriller.
An interesting premise with an anticlimactic and disappointing ending. (Thriller. 14-18)