In a small town deep in the Missouri Ozarks, a family rivalry puts Violette Sinclair’s life in danger.
Vi has suffered homophobic remarks ever since she was caught kissing a girl four years ago. When Dale Woodbine starts to threaten violence against Vi and her family, Vi realizes that Dale’s animosity goes deeper than her sexuality—it’s rooted in a mysterious history between Vi’s mother and the Woodbine family. Now, Vi and her best friend, Junior, are on a mission to understand the Sinclair-Woodbine feud and to get Dale locked away before he can make good on his threats. Vi is an enterprising protagonist who admirably takes her family’s safety into her own hands, often to the point of foolhardiness. However, Vi’s identity as a gay teenager is unconvincing; she rarely reflects on her own sexuality despite its relevance to the plot, leaving readers to guess at her perspective on it. The distinctive dialect used by most characters successfully immerses readers in the all-white setting, although an overabundance of unusual idioms occasionally stretches credibility. The linear plot is uncomplicated, and the reason behind the familial enmity becomes glaringly obvious far before Vi figures it out. Awkwardly, much of the setting and action are implied through clunky dialogue.
It’s a compelling premise, but the execution misses the mark. (Fiction. 13-17)