For 17-year-old Kendra, life has been defined by her older brother’s OCD, causing her to strive for perfection in all things.
When Grayson is released from his latest treatment center, she worries that her brother’s presence will disrupt the family’s tranquility. But this time it’s Kendra’s secret extracurricular activities that threaten the facade of perfection—she is caught buying test answers and reselling them. Rather than face consequences, she hijacks Grayson for an impromptu road trip to see California’s Hayward Fault (one of his leading obsessions) while hoping to reconnect with her past best friend, Zoe. Compared to Brown’s previous work—on school shootings and abusive relationships (Hate List, 2010; Bitter End, 2011)—this story seems almost fluffy. While lies and family stress should fuel narrative tension, the flat emotions and unsympathetic characters can't capitalize on it. Sibling fighting simply can’t achieve the level of raw emotion that Brown has communicated in the past. Kendra’s pursuit of perfection isn’t anything new, and the correlation of perfection with obsession never solidifies. Grayson doesn't emerge as a character beyond his disorder, so his meltdowns and compulsions become plot-device annoyances rather than emotional turmoil.
An imperfect offering from a nearly perfect author. (Fiction. 12 & up)