A debut novel mixes high school drama, teen romance, and a strong thread of mystery and thriller.
New kids are a big deal in the quiet town of Millington Valley. All the more so when they’re as eye-catching as Molly Hanover, who makes a splash when she arrives in her senior year of high school and begins going out with football star Wade Thornton. Wade’s friendships fray, especially with his best friend and teammate, Tommy “Legs”; cheerleaders like Missi Reynolds harass Molly over her newfound happiness; and her mother’s landlord hangs around, becoming more than a little creepy. But when Molly is about to tell Wade and her mother, Ann, about the worst of what’s really been happening to her, the rush of emotion and Wade’s nasty drinking habit put them in a terrible accident. Molly wakes to discover scars weighing on her once-beautiful features while holes and suspicions eat at her memory. With her memory in pieces and her injuries severe, matters only seem to be getting worse for her, Ann, and Wade. If no one can put together what Molly was so desperate—and afraid—to tell her loved ones, disaster will be just around the next bend. With strong prose and pacing, the pages turn quickly and easily. Ann’s need to provide a good life for her daughter; Molly’s insecurities and love of words; and Wade’s fraught relationship with his town, team, and alcohol all feel genuine and well-conceived. That said, Christie’s story can feel light on detail at times. Wade’s initial, intense feelings for Molly are well-conveyed, but their relationship doesn’t have quite enough space, communication, and context to grow and deepen. The same goes for Molly, whose feelings when dealing with bullying and harassment are clear and palpable, but who has almost no time to process the worst of what happens to her before the accident seals her memory. It’s also worth noting that few of the secondary players really seem to have lives outside of their dealings with the protagonists. That said, the central characters’ story has plenty to make it worthwhile, and many readers are sure to feel at home with this intriguing book despite any shortcomings.
A taut, compelling family tale.