Two separate threads come together in this offering from the author of Tell Me a Secret (2010): a grim but compelling take on an abusive relationship and a coming-of-age love story. While they don’t entirely mesh, the author’s considerable narrative gifts keep readers engaged throughout.
For Joy Delamere, asthma is a prison that shuts her in and burdens her family until she meets dangerous, sexy Asher, scion of a wealthy family. Their romance is liberating at first, but it becomes another prison as he gains power over Joy and her family. In desperation, she fakes her kidnapping and flees, losing herself among the homeless teen population on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. Suburban naivete nearly does her in, but four teen squatters led by an attractive musician, Creed, take her in and teach her street smarts. Unlike creepy, psychotic Asher, Creed is gently protective of Joy, although there’s a whiff of old-fashioned paternalism in their relationship. Tough issues are too easily resolved, but the vivid setting and characters, especially the street kids—outwardly jaded, they’re fresh and likable survivors—compensate.
Cupala knows her venue inside out and renders this harsh but lively world of hygienically challenged Dumpster divers with a lot of heart. (Fiction. 14 & up)