SAT prep and prom dreams consume 16-year-old Laurel’s life, but all that changes the night her brother and parents are killed in a car accident.
At first Laurel denies her pain, burying it beneath school work, a new crush and plans for the summer, but seemingly random things begin to crack her façade. A crumpled corsage, a half-gallon of milk and the absence of her brother’s favorite junk food all threaten to unglue her. At the insistence of her grandmother, Laurel finally seeks the professional help that she needs. Complicating matters is her emotionally charged relationship with David, the son of the man responsible for her family’s death. Together they navigate the uncharted waters of the “after” that follows the tragedy. Laurel is generous, self-centered, loving, cold, hopeful and cynical—in a word, she is real. Castle expertly guides the narrative through the various stages of grief, refusing to shrink away from even the most difficult areas, where life and death collide. Readers may grow impatient with the slow-moving and sometimes too introspective story, but the fine writing makes up for what the story lacks in energy.An honest look at grief that is both achingly real and powerfully hopeful. (Fiction. 12 & up)