Tallie was driving with only a learner’s permit the night that her brother, Nate, died in a car crash.
Holding the pieces of her life together is hard when no one, from her parents and teachers to her lifelong friends, knows how to act around her. The first one to break through her isolation is a quirky girl named Mel, who makes taxidermy art and who’s been Tallie’s “companion in limbo” since the accident. Then she meets Chase, a new boy in their small town who creates memorials for people he finds in obituaries. More than anything, Tallie wants to get back to normal. Small rituals help her cope with her guilt, as does working her way through the playlist on her brother’s MP3 player. Song titles serve as chapter headings, reflecting the puzzle of Tallie’s life. The discovery that her parents donated Nate’s organs is a major blow, and in a secret, desperate attempt to hold onto Nate, Tallie tries to find the recipients. Barnaby slowly reveals the cracks in Tallie’s emotional veneer through a well-crafted internal monologue. Tallie’s vulnerability shows in her inability to say her brother’s name aloud and in the way she avoids connecting with her family and friends as she struggles to pick up the pieces and move on.
A touching depiction of the pain of grief. (Fiction. 12-18)